Air Force says repair mishap caused $4M in damage to Air Force One

An Air Force investigation has found of one of two Air Force One jetliners oxygen systems was contaminated, causing $4 million in damage after a mishap at a Boeing repair facility in Texas, the service branch reported.

The Air Force Materiel Command, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, released the findings of an accident investigation board investigation Tuesday. AFMC commander, Gen. Ellen M. Pawlikowski, convened the investigation panel.

One of the jetliners, designated VC-25s in the Air Force, had been in “heavy maintenance” for a year in a Boeing facility at Port San Antonio, Texas when the mishap was reported in April 2016, the Air Force said.

The Air Force flies two Boeing 747-200B presidential aircraft to transport the president and government leaders around the world. The duty falls to the 89th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Andrews, Md.

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In a statement from a company spokesman Tuesday, Boeing said it “fully understands the level of responsibility that comes from working on the president’s aircraft” and added it took “swift action” to report the incident to the Air Force.

The company said it covered the cost to repair the damage. “We fully covered all mitigation and repairs on our dime,” the statement said.

“We ‘ve worked alongside the 89th Airlift Wing and all involved Air Force parties to complete investigations and corrective action plans that ensure stellar performance in the future,” the statement said.

The Air Force said the report concluded “three Boeing mechanics contaminated the aircraft’s oxygen system by using tools, parts and components that did not comply with cleanliness standards while checking oxygen lines for leaks.”

The problem was discovered when an unapproved regulator was found connected to the passenger oxygen system, the Air Force said. The Air Force said the report also concluded a Boeing technician did not follow “explicit cautions and warnings” for work on oxygen systems, and the company “failed to exercise adequate oversight,” among factors contributing to the mishap.

The aircraft was due to be returned to the Air Force last July, but was returned in February, an AFMC spokesman said.

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“While some delay was attributed to this mishap to determine the extent of contamination and make necessary repairs, remediation efforts of the oxygen system were completed by Boeing concurrently with other maintenance activity,” a company spokesman said in a statement. “The aircraft meets all F.A.A. and U.S.A.F. requirements to be certified airworthy. The aircraft has returned to the Air Force and is preparing for Presidential service.”

Wright-Patterson has an Air Force One program office that will soon be headed by a two-star general. The announcement was made after President Donald Trump threatened to cancel the Air Force One replacement over his personal concerns about the cost of the Boeing 747-8 chosen as the successor jetliner.

The blue and white VC-25 four-engine jumbo jets are occasionally spotted at Wright-Patterson practicing touch and go landings.