Air Force

Medium VIP Aircraft for Poland: Two Boeing 737 Offers

  • Fot. Grupa Azoty
    Fot. Grupa Azoty

Both offers submitted to the Polish Armament Inspectorate, concerning the medium VIP aircraft for Poland, propose procurement of the jets based upon the Boeing 737-800 airframe. The negotiation is expected to begin by the end of January, involving the Boeing company and a Czech-German consortium, formed by the Glomex company and Lufthansa in parallel. The second-hand airframe would be delivered until mid-November 2017, while the remaining two jets – between 2020 and 2021. 

According to the information provided to Defence24 by the Armament Inspectorate, on 10th January 2017, two entities have been qualified to take part in the procedure concerning the “Procurement of “Medium” VIP Aircraft: Boeing Company and a Glomex-Lufthansa consortium. Both subjects have submitted their initial offers. The aforesaid contractors have both indicated the Boeing B737-800 jet, as the offered airframe. This applies both to the offer related to the second hand aircraft, as well as to the one which concerns the factory-new jets. Both offers will be negotiable, at the further stages of the tendering procedure.

READ MORE: New VIP Aircraft and New VIP Transport Procedures? [Analysis]

It may be a surprise though, that two companies offering a single aircraft type are competing against themselves during the said tender. The Lufthansa Technik AG’s offer, submitted in collaboration with the Czech Glomex Military Supplies s.r.o. company is founded upon the fact that the German airline has been, since many years, transitioning from Boeing airframes (which constituted a majority of its fleet) to the Airbus jets, however Lufthansa Technik still remains one of the most relevant operators and contractors offering support and maintenance for the American aircraft. It cannot be ruled out that due to proper Agreements and discounts, the Czech-German offer would be competitive, when compared to the one placed by the original manufacturer of the jet.

C-40B Clipper
USAF Boeing C-40B Clipper (Boeing BBJ1). Image Credit: USAF

The tender concerns a single second hand airframe, along with two aircraft which are required to be factory new. The delivery deadline for the second-hand jet has been defined as 11th November 2017. In case of the new airframes, the corresponding dates are: 15th November 2020 and 15th November 2021.  The second-hand aircraft is to have no less than 132 seats onboard, which suggests that an airliner of high standard would be desirable in this case. The new aircraft, so called Boeing BBJ2 (Boeing Business Jet model 2), is a VIP-dedicated design (state and business trips), based on the same airframethe 737-800. The BBJ jet is to carry no less than 65 passengers who would travel in comfort. Moreover, the said 737 would be fitted with encrypted communications suite as well as self-defence and protection systems (e.g. countermeasures). Besides the acquisition of the aircraft, the tendering procedure also envisages delivery of the logistics package and technical documentation, training for the flying crews (pilots and operators of the special equipment installed in case of the new jets), ground crews and flight attendants.

It is worth to note the fact that Boeing BBJ is a quite rare aircraft in this class. BBJ1 jet is being used to carry out VIP sorties by USAF and the US Navy, it is known under the designation of C-40B Clipper. In comparison with the 737 Boeing of a standard variety, the BBJ family features numerous improvements, not only relating to comfort, but also to their performance. These include winglets, extending the jet’s range by 3 to 5%, larger fuel tanks for intercontinental flights, as well as ETOPS-180 certificate. The said safety certificate guarantees that a fully loaded jet shall be capable of staying airborne for at least 180 minutes, flying on a single engine.

It should also be noted that the VIP Jets offer for Poland is based on the BBJ2 aircraft, derived from the Boeing 737-800 aircraft, operated by states such as UAE, Indonesia and Belarus. Most of the users, including the US Navy and USAF, operate the older variants based on the B737-700 airframe. Nonetheless the offer also includes the state of the art varieties based on the latest models, such as B737-900 or B737MAX8 and MAX9 versions, the performance of which is much higher.