Last week’s fiasco involving President Uhuru Kenyatta’s flight to the US has cast the spotlight on presidential air transport.
Leaving aside issues of protocol and flight planning which resulted in the president having to abort his flight somewhere over Ethiopia, how does Kenya’s equivalent of Airforce 1 compare with neighbouring countries?
Kenya: Fokker 70, KAF 308
Kenya’s presidential jet was acquired in 1995. By then, the Fokker 70 was a new model developed from the larger Fokker 100. In commercial airline operations, the Fokker 70 has a capacity of between 72 and 85 depending on the configuration of seats. Kenya’s version is said to have a capacity of 28.
As the F-70 was designed to be a regional jet, the range available to airlines is 3,400km. However, Kenya’s F-70 carries a significantly smaller number of people and it is possible that the aircraft’s range could be higher than would be available in an airline configuration.
The F-70 has two, rear mounted, Rolls-Royce Tay powerplants each generating approximately 13,000 pounds of thrust.
Tanzania: Gulfstream G550, 5H-ONE
President Jakaya Kikwete’s presidential jet, the Gulfstream G550, is a variant of the Gulfstream V. The G550 beats Kenya’s presidential Fokker 70 on range as it can do 6,750 nautical miles (12,500 km) non stop. However, the G550 has a maximum capacity of 18 people, meaning Kenya’s presidential jet beats 5H-ONE on carrying capacity.
The G550 has two Rolls-Royce BR710 rear mounted turbofan engines each generating a maximum 15,385 pounds of thrust.
Uganda: Gulfstream G550, 5X-UGF
Uganda’s presidential jet is similar to Tanzania’s. Uganda has a long history with Gulfstream aircraft, with the current jet having replaced an older model approximately five years ago. The country’s 1970s dictator Idi Amin also flew around in a Gulfstream jet.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): Boeing 707
President Joseph Kabila likes to fly around in a vintage Boeing 707. The 707, with the iconic forward facing probe at the tip of the tail fin, revolutionized air transport in the 1960s. DRC’s presidential jet has a new livery inspired by the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, complete with the digits ‘707’ on the tail fin.
It is however not clear for how much longer the DRC will continue to safely fly the 707. Production of commercial 707s ended in 1979, while military production closed in 1991.
To view recent photos of DRC’s Boeing 707, please click here (link to Airliners.net).