Biden scraps Trump’s Air Force One paint scheme over cost

Last updated on July 4, 2022

The Biden administration has opted not to go with former President Donald Trump’s red, white and blue paint scheme for the Air Force One replacement after a new study showed it could drive up the cost, according to an administration official.

The news comes two days after POLITICO first reported that Trump’s planned livery for the new Air Force One, which calls for dark blue paint covering the plane’s underbelly and engines, could contribute to excessive temperatures on the aircraft.

The darker paint scheme would have required additional modifications to cool some of the components, potentially driving up costs, the Air Force said.

For this reason, the White House ultimately chose to scrap the Trump plan.

“The Trump paint scheme is not being considered because it could drive additional engineering, time and cost,” said the administration official, who asked for anonymity to discuss an internal issue.

While the White House has not released a mock-up of the new Air Force Ones, which will consist of two modified Boeing 747-8s, it is likely they will revert to the classic JFK-era light blue and white scheme. The new planes aren’t expected to fly until 2026, according to Air Force budget documents.

The new paint decision is good news for Boeing, which would have had to pay out-of-pocket to fix the heating problem. The company on Friday referred questions on the paint job to the Air Force.

Trump got personally involved in negotiations for the replacement aircraft soon after he took office. In February 2017, he announced on Twitter that the government had successfully reduced the price of the contract with Boeing by “over $1 billion.” Soon after, Boeing agreed to a fixed-price contract with the Air Force for the planes, meaning that the company would be responsible for any cost overruns.

Then in 2019, Trump told ABC News that he wanted to change up the traditional pattern, later telling Fox News “the baby blue doesn’t fit with us.” The new scheme bore a striking resemblance to Trump’s private 757.

The Air Force awarded a $3.9 billion contract in 2018 to Boeing for a pair of modified 747-8s to replace the existing Air Force One aircraft based on the 747-200B that has been flying since the 1990s.

The program continues to face delays due to supply chain problems, a Boeing dispute with a subcontractor and a workforce shortage of skilled mechanics that was detailed by the Government Accountability Office.

The fiscal 2023 budget documents show the plane may not be ready to fly a president until at least four years from now, two years later than initially planned.