Presidents, chancellors and prime ministers cannot be met on a regular plane, even in first class: for security reasons, the first persons of states fly on private flights. In each country, special administrative aircraft are allocated for the chapter – sometimes it is a whole fleet of ships. Aircraft of this class differ from ordinary ones: they are much more comfortable, often contain several rooms, and you can work in them during the flight.
We decided to find out which planes the heads of large states fly on.
At the disposal of Vladimir Putin are aircraft from the fleet of the special flight unit “Russia”. Today, the special flight unit “Russia” includes four Il-96-300s of various modifications. The flagship is the Il-96-300PU (M), which is much more comfortable and richer than the usual passenger versions of the same aircraft. The letters “PU” in the name of the vessel mean “control point”.
The plane first flew in 2003. This is a real “flying Kremlin”: on board there is the president’s office, several meeting rooms, a conference hall and a luxury salon for guests and accompanying persons. The plane has a special communications channel through which you can broadcast encrypted messages from any height to anywhere in the world. In addition, there is a mini-gym, a dining room, a bar, showers and even a medical unit for resuscitation and emergency medical care on board.
Putin’s plane was custom-built in Voronezh, and it is said to have spent more than $ 50 million on equipment and fit-out. It is worth noting that the point is not in gold toilets and any excesses – they are not there – but in high requirements for communication and security. The aircraft is equipped with four modernized PS-90A engines. Specialists from Diamond Aircraft Industries were involved in the layout of the premises and technical arrangement. The salon is made in light colors, the colors of the Russian tricolor are used in the design. For decoration – engravings on historical themes, embroidered by masters of the Pavlovo-Posad silk factory.
Il-96-300 is a large aircraft: its wingspan is 60.1 meters, length is 55.35 meters. The passenger modification of the aircraft is designed for 300 people.
USA, Boeing VC-25
The President of the United States flies on the so-called “Air Force One” – these are the call signs for any aircraft on board which the first person of the state is. Boeing VC-25 is unofficially called board number one – these aircraft form the basis of the presidential fleet. This is a special military version of the passenger Boeing 747.
VC-25s often work in conjunction with Marine One, a helicopter that takes the President of the United States to the airport in circumstances where ground transportation is not suitable for this. When the first lady or vice president of the United States flies in the plane instead of the president, the code designation changes to “Air Force One Foxtrot”.
There is a long corridor along the left side of the aircraft, and the premises are located on the starboard side. The front of the plane is called the “White House” because of the official premises. Behind the White House there is a hall where guests are accommodated. In the private part of the plane there is a presidential suite with two sofas that converge into beds, a bathroom with a shower and a private office – “Oval Office on Board number one”. If necessary, the president can go live directly from his office: this opportunity was added after the September 11 attacks, when George W. Bush’s plane had to be urgently landed so that the president could address the population.
In addition, there is a medical room with an operating table on board, and each flight is accompanied by a doctor and nurse. Food is prepared right on board, in a special kitchen where meals can be prepared for 100 people.
The VC-25 is a very large aircraft. It has a two-deck layout. Wingspan 60 meters, length 68 meters. The passenger version of the aircraft can accommodate up to 490 passengers, but a maximum of 76 people fly on Board number one.
If the destination airport cannot accept a ship of this size, it is replaced with a Boeing C-32.
Note that the VC-25 aircraft have long been planned to be replaced: firstly, they have been in operation since 1990, and secondly, they are very uneconomical. In January 2015, the US Air Force announced that the next presidential aircraft would be the Boeing 747-8. The current President, Donald Trump, still flies the VC-25, but the new aircraft is likely to appear in the fleet in the coming years.
United Kingdom, Airbus A330 Voyager
British Government and Royal Family members are transported by Squadron 32 of the British Air Force. In 2016, a new Airbus Voyager (number ZZ336) entered service, which is now used to transport top officials.
The first flight on the Airbus A330 Voyager was made on July 8, 2016, on which the ministers flew to the NATO conference in Warsaw. Re-equipment of the aircraft cost about 10 million pounds. Oddly enough, the appearance of this aircraft is a serious savings for the British Air Force: one flight on Airbus costs about £ 2,000 versus 6,700 – about the cost of chartering a charter vessel.
The new aircraft has 158 passenger seats, as well as the latest navigation systems. Note that the Airbus A330 Voyager was originally a tanker aircraft, and it retains this function.
The Queen of Great Britain has her own Sikorsky S-76 Spirit helicopter – it is on the balance sheet of the Royal Court Office. Since 2009, the Queen has been using the S76C ++ model for flights.
Germany, Airbus A340
German Chancellor Angela Merkel flies an Airbus A340-313X VIP. The aircraft was handed over to the government by Lufthansa in 2009, before that it had flown the airline’s routes for ten years. It bears the name of the first chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Konrad Adenauer.
There are first-person suites on board, which include a bedroom, shower and study, as well as a conference room and a special room for confidential conversations with serious soundproofing.
Great attention has been paid to safety: the board is equipped with a friend or foe system and anti-missile defense. The plane also has additional fuel tanks, so that it can fly more than 13.5 thousand kilometers without refueling, for example, from Berlin to Washington.
The wingspan of the Airbus A340 is 60 meters, the length of the aircraft is over 75 meters. A regular jumbo jet can accommodate nearly 300 passengers, but the government version is designed for just 143 people.
On the balance sheet of the government is another Airbus A340 “Theodor Heuss”, the complete twin of “Konrad Adenauer”. Note that until 2009 the Chancellor and members of the government flew on two Airbus A310-304 VIPs, which bore the same names.
France, Airbus A330-200
An Airbus A330-200 has been at the disposal of the French President since 2011. Prior to that, there was an Airbus A319 in the presidential fleet, but, according to rumors, Nicolas Sarkozy, who was then number one, complained about the crowding and the fact that the plane lacked status.
Re-equipment of the Airbus A330-200 for high needs cost the treasury about $ 240 million. For this money, a presidential suite with a shower, satellite communications and the Internet, which are available at an altitude of up to 10,000 meters, appeared on board. But first of all, the president works on the plane, so there is an office and a conference hall for 60 seats.
The Airbus A330-200 is considered an economical and mobile type of aircraft. It is designed for both short and long flights, and can cover up to 12,000 kilometers without refueling.
The wingspan of the aircraft is 60 meters, the length is 59 meters. The passenger version of the A330-200 can carry up to 400 people, with the cabin layout only in economy class seats.
Italy, Airbus 340-500
For the flights of government officials, the Italian Air Force is responsible, which has three Airbus Corporate Jets, two small Dassault Falcon 50, five Dassault Falcon 900 and two AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters – the Pope sometimes uses the helicopter.
The country’s president and prime minister fly long-distance in an Airbus A340-541, which the Air Force leases from Etihad Airways. This vessel does not have the traditional military markings MM (Matricola Militare), instead it says “I-TALY” on the side. Traditionally, there is a presidential suite with a bathroom and a study on board.
Airbus A340-541 is a modification of the A340-500 aircraft, capable of covering 16,000 kilometers. The passenger version can accommodate up to 440 people (in economy class). The length of the aircraft is almost 68 meters, the wingspan is 63.5 meters.
Japan, Boeing 747-400
The Emperor and Prime Minister of Japan fly a Boeing 747-400. The cost of the Japanese modification of the Boeing was more than $ 300 million. On the balance of the Japanese Air Self-Defense Forces, which are engaged in the transportation of the emperor, two such aircraft.
The Boeing 747-400 was built at the Boeing plant at the same time as the US President’s “Board Number One”, but it is worth noting that the American aircraft is made in the previous building – 747-200. The aircraft are no longer new: both have been in operation since 1990. They are slated to be replaced in 2019 with the latest Boeing 777-300ER.