Secretary Of State’s USAF C-40 Grounded By Mechanical Issue


The military-modified Boeing 737 carrying U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinkin experienced what officials described as a critical oxygen leak, just before its scheduled departure for Washington from the global summit in Davos, Switzerland. Blinken and his party were forced to take another aircraft home from Zurich. A State Department spokesperson told reporters the aircraft had suffered “a mechanical issue.”

CNN reported that a “smaller aircraft” transported Blinken and some members of his staff. Remaining staff members returned home on commercial flights.

The 737 is presumably an Air Force C-40B/C, described as a modified version of the 737-700, but with the wings and landing gear of the 737-800, winglets, auxiliary fuel tanks and “a specialized interior with self-sustainment features and managed passenger communications.” It was not clear whether Blinken’s C-40 was the B or C model, the former of which is equipped with broadband data/video transmit-and-receive capability and clear-and-secure voice and data communication. According to the Air Force, “It gives combatant commanders the ability to conduct business anywhere around the world using on-board internet and local area network connections, improved telephones, satellites, television monitors, and facsimile and copy machines.” The C-40B variant is also equipped with a computer-based passenger data system. The C-40C variant can be configured to carry between 42 and 111 passengers, depending on the mission.

The basic C-40 interior includes a crew rest area, “distinguished visitor” compartment with berthing seats, two galleys and business-class seating, according to the Air Force.

Blinken was expected back in Washington later today (Jan. 17).

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.


  1. I suspect for the same reasons I attend county snd city board meetings when the agend includes actions relevant to my local airport. See how cleverly I kept his post relevant to aviation?

    • And here is a civics lesson. The Executive Branch (The President) submits a proposed annual budget to the Legislative Branch (Congress) The Legislative Branch approves a budget and appropriates the funding that Congress determines is adequate to carry out those federal programs in accordance with the legislation written and passed with mandated spending level’s by Congress. Thus it is impossible under the Constitution for the President to “cut” the Defense budget. The President’s budget has been before Congress for several months. Congress has not acted. If no budget is passed by Friday the Executive Branch will “shut down.” If you are unhappy about the current fiasco call your Senators and House members. And put a good word in for the ATC staffing.

  2. Which makes me wonder why they couldn’t have taken the smaller airplane and commercial flights to get there, other than ego?

    • Probably not ego but the same reason there’s corporate flight departments- it’s likely cheaper overall to send the team on the same flight with the added benefit that they can keep working while in transit, especially with onboard internet. Also, you can time the flight to minimize the effects of jet lag so everyone is more productive.

  3. According to the Air Force, “It gives combatant commanders the ability to conduct business anywhere around the world using on-board internet and local area network connections, improved telephones, satellites, television monitors, and facsimile and copy machines.”

    Fax machine? Are those color television monitors? Did they check the Mimeograph option box when they ordered it too?

  4. I think it is time for AvWeb to ban political comments, and especially conspiracy theories that are not supported by any reasonably reliable source.

    Like most nowadays, I have strong political opinions. I try to make sure I stay within the borders of reality. I also try not to spew them at non-related venues.

    This is an aviation website – so let’s keep it that way. Keep your hatred of the other side out of aviation.

    Avweb again, please consider banning political opinions and conspiracy theories on the site!

    • I couldn’t agree more. Several months ago Avweb announced they were going to do just that, but after a few weeks it appeared that no effort had been made to curb ridiculously political comments from what used to be a friendly site for all pilots.

      In this story, I’m not sure why a mechanical issue was considered newsworthy, but to then blame it on the current administration, or whichever administration, is unhinged. Come on, people, save it for Facebook. I miss the old Avweb, where pilots could pilot talk with pilots.

    • You want censorship? Close your eyes, plug your ears and walk away. Groupthink will stunt your intellectual development!

      • Marko D: If I write a letter to the Wall Street Journal, they have no obligation to publish it. Is that censorship?

        If I post overtly pornographic material here on AvWeb, should it be taken down? After all, isn’t that censorship?

        Should every site on every platform allow every form of comment, no matter the intended purpose of that platform?

  5. A USAF Transportation Command airplane broke, the USAF accomplished the mission using alternate resources.

    Gotta say I am struggling to see how this is aviation news or even news at all….

    • In reality, I think you are correct. The tail broke, they allocated alternate transport. The crew and maintainers will get to enjoy a few days in a place generally reserved for the wealthy and privileged. That’s about all there is to the story.

  6. @John Mc RE scorpions: “I am proud to be an American, because an American can eat anything in the world, as long as he has two slices of bread.” –The Cos

  7. I agree with my Aussie mate here,I’m a Kiwi so no dog in your US political fight. The partisan commentary in this forum comes almost entirely from the GOP side however.
    Bagging foreigners ( Europeans mainly) seems to be an associated favourite pass time.
    Here’s a few things to think about.
    How are Airbus executives renumerated ( and taxed) compared to their Boeing counterparts?
    Does the CCP ( not a fan, but made up of people who take running their country seriously) nearly shut down China every year because of issues with abortion/immigration/cultural hot button topic …?
    Speaking of our Chinese friends, never heard of a school shooting over there.
    Enjoying the snow in Aspen this past week, maybe I’ll be back to your great country again for another ski trip but Jeez it’s time to take a long hard look at yourselves guys . American preeminence isn’t preordained by God or his orange emissary.

    • Well, you should have stopped at the first sentence, but you went political instead. Maybe you should pick up the dog scat in your own backyard first before worrying about someone else’s yard.

  8. Pete Buttigieg can get you a voucher for $50 due to a flight delay. May take some time to get it though.

    Boeing will be asking for millions sooner or later to keep them from going bankrupt. Again, contact Secretary Pete for details.