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Gwinnett firm’s Air Force One project lost in jet wash of Trump tweet

August 1, 2016 Atlanta Air Force One arrives at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport with President Barack Obama for a speech to the Disabled American Veterans and a fundraiser, Monday, August 1, 2016. KENT D. JOHNSON/KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM
August 1, 2016 Atlanta Air Force One arrives at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport with President Barack Obama for a speech to the Disabled American Veterans and a fundraiser, Monday, August 1, 2016. KENT D. JOHNSON/KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

Talk about awkward timing.

On Tuesday, Peachtree Corners-based architecture and engineering firm Pond & Co. trumpeted a new contract with a joint venture partner to design a new $250 million hangar complex for the future Air Force One outside of Washington, D.C. On any normal day, the newly announced contract, a point of pride for Pond and partner Frankfurt Short Bruza, would generate some good buzz for a high-profile project.

But Tuesday wasn’t a normal day.

Earlier in the morning, President-elect Donald Trump also had something to say about the Boeing project to replace the Air Force’s aging pair of 747 aircraft that are known as Air Force One when the president is aboard.

Trump said to his millions of Twitter followers: “Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!”

As Trump might also tweet: Sad!

A tweet this morning from President-elect Donald Trump.
A tweet this morning from President-elect Donald Trump.

The Wall Street Journal reported the U.S. Air Force uses a pair of modified 747-200 planes that have been in service since the administration of President George H.W. Bush, and those reach the planned end of their 30-year service life next year. The Journal reported Boeing has a contract to begin the development work to replace those aircraft with modern modified 747-800 jets.

Separately, the Air Force has about $1.65 billion — less than half the $4 billion figure Trump tweeted — earmarked across several budget years for the jets, which would be put into service in 2023 or 2024. But that might not be the full cost of the program, and NBC News reported Trump is likely correct about the overall price of the program.

The Journal also reported the Air Force was contemplating a third executive plane, which would bump up the price tag. Boeing’s stock dipped Tuesday morning and was down less than 1 percent by late morning, but had rebounded in the afternoon.

In its news release, Pond said the hangar would be based at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland and is part of the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization Program, the official name of the jet replacement project.

A request for comment from Pond officials was not immediately returned.

Pond is a noted planner for military and federal, state, and local government infrastructure projects. The firm has done extensive design work at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and community planning efforts across metro Atlanta.