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Money For Replacement Aircraft Removed From Bill

April 23, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The House has quietly shot down the Reagan administration’s attempt to buy a new Air Force One airplane for the president.

The action came Tuesday as the chamber approved, on a vote of 339-7, a bill overhauling the military pension system.

The bill also authorized several Pentagon purchases for which money had been appropriated last December. Normally, authorization is the initial action in the two-step congressional budget process.

Before the pension bill reached the floor, however, the House Armed Services Committee removed money for replacement presidential aircraft.

The panel gave no reason for eliminating the money, but members had said they considered the cost too high. Air Force plans call for the purchase of two planes, although the bill approved Tuesday had not spelled out how many planes would have been purchased.

The measure approved in December included $280 millon for replacing the presidential plane.

In the Senate, the Armed Services Committee is considering a similar bill, including money for replacement aircraft.

If the money stays in the Senate bill, the differing versions would have to be reconciled by a House-Senate conference committee.

Presidential planes are generally known as Air Force One, although that phrase is technically a military call sign used to designate whatever plane the president is using at the time.

The two planes that now serve as Air Force One are Boeing 707s purchased in 1963 and 1972.

But the administration wants newer and larger planes. The specifications, particularly involving size and range of the plane, mean that only two U.S.-made planes would qualify. Those would be either the Boeing 747 or the McDonnell Douglas DC-10.

The 707, in its commercial version, can carry up to 200 passengers, while the DC-10 carries about 300 and the 747 holds up to 400 or more. The larger planes would permit more staff members, crew and passengers to ride with the president.

While Tuesday’s bill would have provided for $280 million, the Air Force wants to buy two of the presidential craft and some estimates of the price for the pair have ranged up to $500 million.

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