Trump Livery Too Hot For Air Force One


The Biden administration has decided that future presidents will not fly with former President Donald Trump’s colors and says extra costs scuttled the revised paint job on the new VC-25 aircraft now being laboriously built by Boeing. When he signed the paperwork for the new aircraft after personally intervening in the contract talks, Trump ordered Boeing to paint the aircraft with a red, white and navy blue livery that looked a lot like the colors used on his personal Boeing 757, dubbed Trump Force One. The White House has determined those colors were too hot for reasons other than politics.

The administration says the color scheme was evaluated by engineers who said the darker colors would heat up components near the skin. That would, in turn, require more internal cooling in those areas. “The Trump paint scheme is not being considered because it could drive additional engineering, time and cost,” Politico quoted an anonymous source as saying. Boeing was actually the beneficiary of the decision. The company is already losing money on the unusual fixed price contract it signed with Trump for the new planes and would have been on the hook for the extra costs.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Right.
    “The administration” discovered this engineering challenge, just now? This breaking news disclosed by “an anonymous source,” of course.
    And I’ve got a bridge for sale in Manhattan. It comes with TWO scoops of ice cream.

  2. Wow, never heard of an airliner with a dark paint on the belly, must boil the potable water. Maybe a dark top on a composite plane. Come on Biden is so small that to fly on a plane even painted in a scheme somewhat picked by his predecessor is too much.

  3. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus don’t hold a candle to the Media Bros. and D & R Circus. New act every hour and the curtain never drops.

    For the next act…, the administration will announce that the Air Force One will only use SAF fuel and have a rainbow belly. These minor changes will only cost the tax payer another billion or two but, who’s counting anyway? 💸 🤑

  4. Air Force One has components not found on typical airliners. For example all of the defensive countermeasures, not to mention additional communications equipment. With the budget overrun of this program, sounds like Boeing is trying to cut their loses with a less expensive paint job. What’s the problem with letting Boeing change the paint to decrease the cost of the program? Or is it that the former president and his supporters have such thin skins and sensitive egos that they can’t help but be triggered by any change made by their opponents, regardless of how small and inconsequential? And really with everything going on in the world right now, a paint job is just that, small and inconsequential. If it were my decision I’d tell Boeing to paint it as cheaply as possible to sufficiently protect the aircraft as long as they split the cost reduction with the tax payers (i.e. the government).

    • TRUMP, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump….breath….TRUMP, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump,……Everything has to be about Trump…………

      • Well, he did make a big deal about being the “Dealmaker in Chief” when he negotiated the project with Boeing. It’s hard to leave his name out of this issue.

      • Gregory W hilarious! But you forgot “two scoopes” of ice cream, Biden being so small, SAF fuel, a rainbow belly, and a bridge for sale in Manhattan (all sung to the tune of 12 days of Christmas).

    • Dark colored bottom of planes do not effect defensive countermeasures or communication equipment. If that was the case, then the Air Force has had this wrong since the beginning. This is another trivial democrat whine fest. How about focus on fixing the economy and stopping inflation instead of trivial crap like this.

      • Yeah, don’t affect their operation, but that wasn’t the point. The point is total heat load of the aircraft, its systems, and occupants. The point of mentioning countermeasures and comms is that they add heat load that isn’t present in other transport aircraft that don’t have them, such as the prior comparisons given. Add heat load, then you must add cooling capacity to address said heat load. Want to save money by avoiding the need to increase cooling capacity? Get rid of some of the heat load. Of all possible trade offs, changing the paint seems like the cheapest, least mission impactful option. Geeze is politics so front and center in people’s minds that they turn the critical thinking part of their brains off? But totally agree with you that all of the whining here – on both sides – is all about nothing much important. ITS. A. PAINT. JOB!!!! Really that’s the big point I seem to be failing to break through with. Thanks politics, you’ve been a big help.

        • I’m sure someone can make some stupid calculations to justify this change. I’m also sure they are stupid because it’s actually a non issue. Get over it. The reason the colors changed has nothing to do with heat. Sheesh.

          • Eric W. you’re entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. Without facts and logical inferences based on those facts, your opinions are no more valid than any one else’s. If you’re going to hold up your own unsubstantiated opinions in public as worthy of our attention, then we might as well also hold up all of those opinions you oppose as equally worthy of attention. So say it loud and say it proud all you want, but end of the day without raising the quality of the discourse you’re only perpetuating that which you oppose.

    • Raf S you’re absolutely right! And you know what the doctor orders for a chronic complainer. “Give them a high colonic!” says the old Doc. Does wonders getting rid of all that Bravo Sierra.

  5. “… the new VC-25 aircraft now being laboriously built by Boeing.” Russ, don’t you mean being laboriously RE-built by Boeing? Then President Trump decided that, rather than build new airplanes from the start, he (the government) would supply two existing 747s already built and sitting in storage. They were originally slated for a defunct Russian airline that never took possession. His reasoning was that getting the existing planes would save a lot of money for the taxpayers. In reality, I suspect that many of the cost overruns on the planes stem from the extensive modifications needed to make the finished planes meet the strict requirements for the President’s use. However, I have no pity for Boeing if they lost money on the project. They are big boys, and if they can’t figure out how to price a bid to make money, shame on them.

    • I agree, the cost overruns are Boeing’s responsibility. No one forced them into a fixed price contract. That being said, why all the fuss if changing the paint job to something equally performant makes the deal less of a loss for Boeing?

      • The “big deal” is about the naked pettiness of the Biden “administration.”
        This emperor has no clothes.

        • I’m not sure what’s so “petty” about going back to the cheaper, original paint scheme. Seems like the only one who was being petty was the former president who wanted it changed in the first place.

          • As I said, a paint job is small and inconsequential. I would not however go so far as to characterize a paint job change as petty without qualifying circumstances. “De gustibus non est disputandum.” Had the former “administration” been told by Boeing that the former “administration”‘s proposed paint scheme would have been more expensive than other options, and the former “administration” required the paint job change anyway, that would have been petty, maybe even vain, and as a tax payer, would rub me the wrong way. But I have not seen any evidence of that. Had the current “administration”, after receiving Boeing’s feedback, decided *not* to change the paint job, well that, that would be petty.

    • “originally slated for a defunct Russian airline that never took possession”
      I just knew there was a Russian connection!

      • Regardless of your political objectives, look for something hard enough and you’ll find it, even pettiness!

  6. If Boeing delays long enough, and Trump gets back into office, the plane can be stripped and painted to Trump’s liking.

    • Those are some big ifs… well, at least the latter. The airplane could be repainted before Boeing is done with it. Now forcing a repainting, that would have be petty, maybe even vain, and as a tax payer, would rub me the wrong way.

  7. Could there have been some connection between no criminal charges being brought against Boeing by the Justice Department (the very same folks Not Charging the three Opioids Distributors) for the 737 Max deaths and Boeing eating cost overruns? [Who does not love a conspiracy story?]

  8. Why not just paint it all white, an appropriate color for the America – Last fake president and his entourage of handlers? The plane is full of Fruit Loops when he flies, I’ve heard. Weren’t the U2s and SR-71s all black? How does Southwest cope with those nice blue and orange airplanes? And what about Jet Blue? Just leave the planes for the Real President Trump in the desert. It won’t be long and he’ll be in them again.

    • Japan’s former 747 executive aircraft were painted mostly white, with a red band along the lower windows and a light grey belly. Rather a fetching scheme, better than any of the US schemes in my opinion. But “De gustibus non est disputandum.” Along those lines, if Fruit Loops are your preferred breakfast treat or Trump’s (probably swimming in a coke… maybe diet) I’m not going to argue with you, but I’m more of a classic shredded wheat man myself. U2s and SR-71s, well that’s really apples and oranges, but at least in the case of the SR-71 the heating due to surface friction probably dwarfed any difference due to color, and paint could have an effect on stealth, but ya know those are technical concerns similar to the heating effect of the paint job under discussion, and why let technical concerns get in the way of a good political argument? Ditto jet blue. As for Trump being in these aircraft, you may want that to be soon but, Allah Forbid!, the only way I can see it will certainly happen is if Trump dies and per tradition he is carried to his state funeral in the US capitol on board one. And wouldn’t that be a special form of irony, a Trump state funeral in the US capitol. Hard to argue with tradition!

      • Allah Forbid! who’s state funeral in the US capitol will be first, Trump or Biden? Anybody’s guess.

    • Depends on how good the refrigerator is.

      Air Force Times Jun 5, 2018. A $24 million dollar order of two refrigerators produced by Boeing and intended for operation on Air Force One was canceled by the Air Force and the White House Military Office.

      The cancellation was announced on Monday in a statement by Rep. Joe Courtney, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, according to CNN. The cancellation was later confirmed by an Air Force spokesperson.

      The order was created in December, when the Air Force ordered replacements from Boeing for two of the five refrigeration units aboard President Donald Trump’s presidential jet.
      In January, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told CNN that “although serviced on a regular basis, reliability has decreased with failures increasing, especially in hot/humid environments. The units are unable to effectively support mission requirements for food storage.”

      The current units aboard Air Force One have been in use since 1990, and were part of the original equipment that was included with the delivery of the current jet that was put into service that same year.

      The refrigerators aboard Air Force One must be able to carry 3,000 meals in order to feed passengers and crew for up to four weeks in case of any emergency that prevents the plane from landing, according to a previous report in Air Force Times.

      The high price tag of the refrigerator order was due to Air Force One’s presence as a unique aircraft. The components require unique testing by the Federal Aviation Administration, the cost of which was included in the $24 million price tag.

      The contract was canceled due to the looming introduction of the new version of the presidential jet. The Air Force announced a deal to purchase two new aircraft from Boeing in 2017 that will serve as the future Air Force One under the next several presidents. The planes, two 747-8 jets, will begin transitioning to the Air Force One configuration in 2019, with initial operational capacity slated for 2024.

      According to CNN, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said “mitigation options exist to ensure food security” until the new planes become the presidential jet. However, Wilson also said that replacing the refrigerators will come under consideration again if there is any delay in the delivery of the new planes.

      According to a 2016 Government Accountability Office report, the cost of replacing the current Air Force One planes would be $3.2 billion over 10 years. According to Fortune, Boeing and the White House reached an informal deal that would cap the cost at $3.9 billion.

  9. Good decision. The proposed paint job was weak and cowardly. Just like the person who ordered it.

    • Wow. I’m so glad we now have a “real man” in the White House…. give me a break, while Biden looks for his hat.

      • Trump, Biden… if this is the best we can do, maybe we should just stop electing men as president, the trend in recent years suggests it is time for a change. Women wouldn’t always be better, of course, but at least they would be different. And we could dispense with all of the “real man” snark ha ha. Now where is my hat…

      • Or BDS… but really all of this is a manifestation of PDS – Politics Derangement Syndrome. This stuff is poison. If we can’t figure out how to get beyond it, the less friendly countries out there are going to eat our lunch.

        • I’m very late to the party here, and I don’t see your name, but I couldn’t agree more. Simplistic and absolutist political ideologues are a cancer in todays discourse.

  10. My flats boat has a white deck and routinely operate shoeless/barefooted with no issue. I went fishing with a friend who’s decking is eggshell, nearly white, and I could not operate shoeless/barefooted at all. The deck was too hot for bare feet in the Florida sun. I’m sure there is a scale that categorizes the heat index based on the different pigments. I don’t dislike the livery Trump picked. I also don’t see a difference in anything important if the livery remains historical colors. The suggested colors are too hot. Done. Move on.

    Having said all that, there’s no limit to the fragility of certain ego’s…and owners of said ego’s willingness to bitch and complain.

      • Oh Dale, look at the picture of the paint job, the dark colors go far up the side of the airplane to the lower line of windows. And before you start with another whataboutism re: other dark color paint schemes, see the discussion here on heat load.

    • I actually liked the color scheme, just saying. But this (Robert M.’s) is a good, if anecdotal data point. I also don’t mind the old light blue color scheme either. Unfortunate that all of this is tainted by fragile political egos.

  11. Trump’s livery looks a lot like the defunct Trump Shuttle. Just another of his many business failures.

    • You do have to give Trump credit for his sticktoitiveness. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

  12. An Air Force One painted all white but with composite tiles on the underside would probably be most suitable for a President who in an earlier life graduated in the top 99% of his law school class, then went on to be a semi driver, a farmer, and a door gunner on the NASA Space Shuttle before being elected the only Senator ever to serve Delaware, and eventually the President of the United States.

    Also, Orange Man Bad.

  13. Complete bullshit. Just another example of the decrepit, drooling B*duhn undoing something Trump did.

    • Well Gary S I agree with your assessment but only in so far as it applies to your own contribution to the discussion. If for no other reason than the lack of originality vis a vis other prior comments above; if you care to understand why see that above discussion. Come on folks, you’re putting us to sleep here with your predictable, empty, unimaginative, repetitive bellyaching. You’re aviation enthusiasts, the best of the best! You can do better, I know you can!

  14. So let me see if I got this straight………they just sent $40 billion dollars of our money over to Ukraine, but now they are worried about the cost of some paint? If you believe that, you are lost for good.

    • Stephen H. it is a fixed price contract, so (without renegotiation which as you say given the probably small difference would not be worth the effort) there’s no monetary upside here for the federal government. Boeing wants to try to cut their losses by changing the paint to avoid re-engineering cooling. The federal government said Boeing can change the paint. This is the usual sort of back and forth that happens with large projects. Given how much equipment and services the federal government has and is buying from Boeing, it is in the federal government’s best interest monetarily and strategically to be a responsive customer and work with Boeing on matters of concern to Boeing. Try not to inject unrelated topics like Ukraine funding into the discussion, it only serves to weaken your argument.

  15. Don’t know who coined the line “the White House decision was made based upon heat not politics” but it is the purest, most transparent line of BS in this whole article and discussion, and totally consistent with both the Biden admin and most democrats efforts to dis Trump at every chance they get, just like 60 minutes, CNN, NPR, etc.

    • Oh Dale, you’re incensed by a political entity playing politics enough that it merits a response? Specifically I’m talking about a presidential administration making an announcement about a decision that is likely to 1) show they are sticking it to the other side in order to rally their supporters and 2) make the other side visibly angry, thus enforcing 1). Really, this is what has got you upset enough to post here? Congratulations, you just allowed yourself to be snookered into the whole political mess, and helped the other side / administration in the process! Whatever the side and presidential administration – doesn’t matter as both Trump and Binden a have played these political games – and good luck to anyone who seeks to find a presidential administration in history that hasn’t. And oh yes by all means let’s trot out all those other favorite dead horses and give them another whip, oh boy does that feel good! You’re forcing me to quote myself: “Come on folks, you’re putting us to sleep here with your predictable, empty, unimaginative, repetitive bellyaching. You’re aviation enthusiasts, the best of the best! You can do better, I know you can!” Please contribute some new fact, some new view, something, anything to make a worthwhile discussion. Otherwise this is and we are all just so common, dull, and dim.

  16. Not a big fan of any of the recent Presidents, but would have seen it as a good sign if there was no announcement about the change, or if the reason been that Biden simply desired a different scheme.

    I suppose I’m a crazy idealist for thinking this didn’t have to become an issue given the complete defecation tempest we are in.

    • Eric W. 200% agree no announcement out of the white house would have been a reasonable course of action, and possibly a way to ratchet down the conflict just a little bit. I think it might have been worth trying. Suppose the current administration didn’t say anything about the change. At some point, the public is going to get a look at these new aircraft. Someone is going to notice the paint scheme changed. That’s going to be picked up on and (shudder) could even go viral. Now how is that going to play with the folks who have already shown themselves to be predisposed to, shall we say, develop vapor lock (gotta keep this connected back to aviation somehow) whenever anybody changes anything their own political hero did? Maybe some of those folks who’ve self identified here can tell us how they would react… but I don’t think anyone would accuse me of wild speculation (just mere speculation) in saying that their response would probably not be better than what we have seen. Since airing things in sunlight early is better than letting them fester in a dark damp place, even if the present administration didn’t say anything about it, somebody probably would need to. Congress – pick a relevant oversight committee – could. Boeing also could. But again, with the rampant, unencumbered by facts or logical inference opinioneering demonstrated here, that airing by a party not the one calling the shots would (and again I am speculating, so please folks who have self identified as the aggrieved paint schemers please tell us if I am wrong) result in some more vapor lock, probably not any better than what we have observed. Perhaps the current administration in this matter, in order to look after the best strategic and monetary interests of a relationship with a suppler crucial to national defense, felt the best way to deal with fallout from their decision was to take responsibility for it and go on record early about it. And if – according to the reasoning I have previously described – they picked up a few political points, well, why be surprised or expect anything less from a political animal. Such behavior is so common place amongst this class as far as I am concerned it is beneath notice, and actually as previously described, giving it notice only serves to perpetuate it. And just to give equal time, plenty of people also exhibited signs of vapor lock when Trump made changes to things his predecessor did… there’s plenty of opportunity for vapor lock no matter who the political hero is. The secret to eliminating vapor lock in this case isn’t turning on the fuel pump (or switching to an all electric aircraft lest you think I was going to go there). The secret to eliminating vapor lock is not making a politician a hero and not treating politics as a sport in which you take joy in the “wins” of your team and the “losses” of the other team. Because if you’re an American, we’re all on one team, and either we all win or we all lose. This kind of vapor lock only contributes to our losing.

  17. Well, I always thought pilots had to be intelligent, thoughtful people. Comment Sections like the preceding have disabused me of that idea. They have become too common, and do not serve to further the discussion of the story. They only serve as a platform for political abuse. Glad I stayed on the ground!

    • Jeff M one of the great things about being a pilot in the air is that all of these problems are of the ground. When you leave the ground, you leave these problems behind on the ground. Sadly, your time away from these problems is limited, but every time you successfully return to them you then create the opportunity to (temporarily) escape them once again.

  18. Had anyone but Trump championed the change–this wouldn’t be an issue.

    Forget the discussion on “heat load” due to paint–it’s just an excuse–a “Canard”.

    Look at the paint job on the Presidential 707s. The example in the Reagan Library is stunning by comparison to the current 747s–the blue stripe layout doesn’t compliment the aircraft lines. Use that tried and true beautiful paint scheme instead–and forget the political bickering.

    • Well Jim H. the devil in the details here is that different aircraft are built differently. Military aircraft are purpose built to carry the equipment, defenses and armaments specific to their role. The same is true for commercial transport aircraft, but their role is very different. Head of state transport is an interesting overlap between these two categories. Setting aside comparisons of very different airframes equipped across very different time periods, I’ll confine myself to a comparison of the current VC-25s and the new replacements, as on the surface these appear to be very similar. The key difference though is how the two development programs for these aircraft differ. The original VC-25s were designed and purpose built for their hybrid role, at a time when, perhaps, there was less budgetary sensitivity around total program cost. The replacement VC-25s are stock 747s ordered and built for commercial transport operations that, due to a program change to control costs, are being retrofitted for the head of state transport role instead of the use of purpose designed and built aircraft. So if you start with the cooling capacity of an aircraft designed to transport X numbers of pax or cargo, remove a bunch of that and replace it with high power draw equipment, you might end up with more heat than the cooling capacity can deal with. Now you’d expect Boeing would carefully study this to make sure that whatever the final configuration is that cooling budgets for each subsystem program are appropriately managed to make sure there’s enough capacity, which some buffer. However, with any large project, requirements drift (often in the direction that decreases difficulty in my experience), and perhaps some of those early estimates turned out not to be correct, such that today Boeing finds itself looking for ways to reduce cooling demand. Maybe not a ton (see what I did there?), but maybe enough that changing the paint scheme would mean the difference between needing to re-engineer the cooling systems to increase capacity or shift around capacity (at great cost), or keep those systems unchanged. Speculation on my part? Absolutely, but at least it is grounded in basic facts. But I would posit it shows the heat load argument is not in fact a canard, per the prior appeals to facts and logical inferences. Much more so “an unfounded rumor or story” – which is a definition of the term “Canard” – is this repeated but unjustified by facts / logic rumor that heat is not in fact the motivation for the change.

  19. Who cares about the stupid paint job? Just park Air Force One. This would be a wonderful way for the Regime, who purports to care about Anthropogenic Climate Change (TM), to lead by example. Giving up date night on a 747 is a small sacrifice compared to those of us who will be coerced into parking our eeeeeeeeeeviiiiiiiiiiiiiil internal combustion SUV’s and eating bugs.

    • Boogie I can’t argue with your assertion of ideological inconsistency at play here. But given the incoherent platform one expects nothing less. Much more disappointing is the other major party and its adherents, which from how they talk you think would be the pinnacle of ideological consistency. Yet in practice they do no better than their opponents, which if you think about it, is a much bigger disappointment and more worthy of calling out.

      • There is no “other” party. R’s and D’s are two sides of the same coin. The, “Your party is worse than my party,” mentality is playing into the divide and conquer strategy of the Regime.

        • Boogie I agree. There are some shades of difference – largely around rhetoric – which make one of them to me more of a disappointment than the other. But I like your higher level characterization better.

          • Although Boogie I must confess I don’t know what you mean by “Regime”. If by that you’re referring to government, well, I think anarchy is like communism – they both may sound good in theory and be great foils for fiction, but in practical matters I wouldn’t go there. The parts of the word which de facto have no government are not my cup of tea, and all the attempts at communism in history haven’t delivered. So until somebody else demonstrates a convincing alternative, I’ll stick to good old representative government, warts and all. “Democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried.”

  20. Everyone focuses on the Presidential aircraft–and forgets that it is NOT just “Air Force One”–they forget about the “chase” transports for the rest of the staff–the jets that transport the guards–the aircraft that transport the Presidential limo and the other vehicles required–and all of the transportation on smaller aircraft for the hordes of people required to do the legwork for a Presidential trip.

    Forget the “dog and pony show” and save literally TONS of fuel for all of the staff and guards required by Presidential travel these days.

    The argument over “heat load” and associated fuel costs is literally a “drop in the bucket” of fuel used.

    • Jim H. right you are within bounds of my prior arguments. I also think the idea that heads of state are separated and protected in this way, beyond the protections afforded to the citizens they represent perpetuates some problems. While some opposed the elimination of mid air refueling from the VC-25 replacement program by the prior administration, I think that was a great outcome. The idea that a president might have a chance of surviving a nuclear war is not in my mind the right kind of incentive to give the person making decisions that could lead to nuclear war. Another way to look at this (and I am interested to see how this group receives this): if all members of congress had the same level of protection as the kids in American schools, might the current response to school shootings be a bit different?

  21. I’m kind of glad a draft dodger is not going to pick the paint scheme for the presidential fleet. It would have been an insult to all of us who served in the military during the years there was a draft.

  22. What a lame excuse! How small can these pinheads get?

    So it won’t cost the taxpayer a nickel, but we have to save costs?

    • Wynn J. Boeing backed itself into a corner by agreeing to do more than they could do for the price they agreed to. Were you to find yourself in that position with a supplier, you might say “Hey, tough luck, that’s your problem, you should be more careful next time, now where’s my stuff?” Some folks sure do behave that way, and maybe if the transaction is for a commodity where there plenty of suppliers to choose from, that attitude won’t have long term negative impacts to the entities that adopted it. However with a key strategic supplier, like Boeing, in the big picture this is probably not the right approach. So if Boeing requests a program change that saves Boeing money, but doesn’t materially impact the mission capability of the product, why refuse it? If you take care of your partners in business, they will take care of you. If you try to extract all the value for yourself, you’ll find yourself with no one to partner.

  23. Hmm, recently flew on Royal Jordanian. Dark gray upper surfaces, on an airline based in the Middle East. It works for them.

    • Terry C. see the discussion above re: heat load, purpose built aircraft, equipment not found on typical transport aircraft, the article about the unusual refrigerators on the current VC-25s, etc.