Google Adds Military Trainer To Fleet

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Google has upped the ante to keep its corporate aircraft at the spacious and convenient Moffett Field thanks to some snags in the way such aircraft are certified. In September of 2007, NASA, which operates Moffett Field, just north of San Jose, Calif., admitted it had entered an agreement with Google to rent hangar space and allow the comings and goings of Google's Boeing 767, Boeing 757 and two Gulfstreams in exchange for placing scientific gear on the planes. That satisfied NASA's requirement that all Moffett traffic be NASA-related and it gave Google a convenient base for the aircraft, a five-minute drive from their Mountain View headquarters. But according to the New York Times, the problem with that deal is that adding electronics or just about anything else to the aircraft isn't allowed under FAA certification rules if Google still wants to use them for carrying people. So, Google bought a used military trainer, a Dornier Alphajet that will be registered as an experimental aircraft so NASA can modify it at will.

Google claims it will use the Alphajet for "training and flight proficiency." Critics have claimed both the original deal and the addition of the trainer is just a smokescreen for a special deal for Google to use Moffett. Others have worried about increased noise but Moffett spokesman Steve Zornetzer said the Google planes accounted for only 88 of the more than 19,000 movements at the field last year.