Boeing CEO says company 'shouldn't have taken' Donald Trump's Air Force One deal

Boeing CEO says company 'shouldn't have taken' Donald Trump's Air Force One deal
U.S. President Donald J. Trump waves to the crowd as he exits Air Force One at Joe Foss Field, Sioux Falls, S.D. Sep. 7, 2018. Trump was in the city to speak at a fundraising event for South Dakota gubernatorial candidate Kristi Noem. (U.S. Air National Guard photo Senior Master Sgt. Nancy Ausland)

The chief executive officer of aircraft manufacturing giant Boeing said on Wednesday that the $3.9 billion deal that the company struck with former President Donald Trump in 2018 to build two new Air Force One planes is over budget, behind schedule, and was in hindsight, not a good idea.

The contract was a renegotiation of a 2016 agreement between Boeing's ex-CEO Dennis Muilenberg and then-President Barack Obama, but Trump had objected to the price tag after taking office.

The Air Force admitted in early April that a "combination of factors including impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic, interiors supplier transition, manpower limitations, wiring design timelines and test execution rates" have gotten in the way of delivery.

Today, however, CEO David Calhoun said that numerous challenges have arisen and that his predecessor "probably shouldn't have taken" Trump's offer to deliver two 747-8s – or VC-25Bs – in the first place, CNN reported.

"Air Force One, I'm just going to call a very unique moment, a very unique negotiation. A very unique set of risks that Boeing probably shouldn't have taken," Calhoun said. "But we are where we are."

The upgraded aircraft were originally scheduled to be in service by the end of 2024. But the pandemic was a particularly difficult obstacle to overcome. As a result, they are not expected to be completed until late 2026, Calhoun explained.

"When a Covid line goes down or a group of workers steps out, we don't have a whole bunch of cleared people to step into their shoes," he said. "For VC-25B where the clearances are ultra-high, it's really tough."

CNBC noted that "Boeing reported a net loss of $1.2 billion for the first quarter of 2022, with a charge of $660 million associated with delays and higher costs for the Air Force One program."

Despite all of that, though, Calhoun pledged that “we are where we are, and we’re going to deliver great airplanes and we’re going to recognize the costs associated with it."

The current Air Force One – a 747-200B – has been in service since 1990.

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