FROM: KINGSLEY OMONOBI
There were indications at the weekend that federal government has concluded plans to acquire 4 new aircraft for the Presidential fleet at a cost of about $200million to replace aging aircraft in the fleet whose maintenance cost as a result of old age, with some of them having spent 22years, is gulping huge foreign exchange annually.
The aircraft include 2 Falcon 7X, one G550 and one Hawker 4000XP executive jets. They are to take the places of the existing HS 125-800B (20 years old), the Gulfstream IV (20 years old), and the 2 Falcons currently in the fleet (Falcons 900B both 20 & 22 years old).
Confirming the decision of government to replace the aging aircraft, Commander, Presidential Air Fleet (PAF), Air Commodore Adesola Amosu disclosed that it was very timely as prices of new aircraft is on the increase while the prices of aging aircraft is on the decrease.
“For example, we bought the BBJ aircraft in 2004 for about $43million and the same aircraft costs about $65million today. Also, the Tanzanian government bought the G550 in 2004 for about $40million, while the Ugandan government purchased the same aircraft in 2007 for about $48. 2million. The purchase price for this aircraft today, is in excess of $53million from the manufacturers” he said..
Commodore Amosu who was briefing the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar when he visited PAF headquarters in Abuja, noted that “for the older aircraft, the value of a 20 year old Gulfstream IV two years ago was between $13million-$16million. You can easily get this same aircraft for less than $9million today”.
While noting that the aircraft acquisition process of 3 out of the 4 aircraft to be acquired, which are the 2x Falcon 7X and the G550 have been concluded, he said the process of acquiring the Hawker 4000P would be concluded by early next year pointing out that with the new platforms, the fleet has fully entered into the regime of long range operations.
Explaining the shortcomings of the aging aircraft to the CAS, Amosun said, “In 2007, the Falcon 900 (5N-FGO) spent 8 months on maintenance, while the Falcon 900 (5N-FGE) spent 12 months on maintenance in 2008. The two Falcon 900Bs have had multiple engine failures within the last one year. Additionally, the Gulfstream IV spent about 6 months on maintenance in 2008 and 4 months in 2009”.
“Also, the cost of maintaining the aging aircraft in the fleet was increasing more significantly on an annual basis due to the need for more in-depth maintenance required to keep them airworthy” he said pointing out that “the maintenance due on the Gulfstream IV for instance, is expected to cost between $3million – $5million”.
“Additionally, we spent over $4. 8million on one of the Falcon 900B aircraft in 2008, while the second aircraft gulped another $4. 8million the following year. Coupled with difficulty in obtaining spare parts and issues with airworthiness and certification, getting the new aircraft, is the best thing government has done” the PAF Commander to the CAS.
Meanwhile, Air Marshal Mohammed Umar has announced the purchase of an Augusta 109E helicopter for the PAF in support of the President’s movement while promising to support the unit due to its importance to the nation.