Expert points out why Zuma doesn’t need a new Jet

An expert has called the plan to replace the current presidential jet “foolish”, claiming that there is little need for a new aircraft at this stage.

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Wednesday, that the government will buy a new VVIP jet for the presidency.

“Buying the VVIP aircraft – we will. But not for [President Jacob] Zuma. There will be a president after Zuma. The VVIP aircraft is not being procured because there is president Zuma who will use it,” she told reporters ahead of her budget vote speech in Parliament.

There would be another president after Zuma retired in 2019, even if he was from another party.

“The VVIP aircraft will still be there.”

It would be bought to ensure that government officials, the president and deputy president were always safe.

In an interview on Talk 702, Darren Olivier, senior correspondent at African Defence Review said that the presidency’s current plane, Inkwazi, is only 15 years old, and is currently flying far less than equivalent jets in the commercial airline market.

“It’s really foolish in my view; there’s no need to replace Inkwazi”. The plane is a Boeing 737 (BBJ) aircraft, Olivier said, adding that the plane was bought brand new.

“It’s only ever been used for VIP flying.”

Olivier stressed that there has never been a safety issue with the current jet – despite reports to the contrary.

He noted that Inkwazi is exclusively for the president’s use, and not the deputy president, who has never flown on the presidential jet. According to Olivier, Ramaphosa flies on the Falcon 900 or Falcon 50  – two other aircraft in the VIP suite.

Olivier said that only two ‘major’ issues have previously occurred with Inkwazi – neither of which has been a safety of flight issue.

The first occurred in Russia, where a stuck fuel valve meant that the plane would have been required to make two stops for fuel. The second issue was in Burundi where the plane had an oil leak – which was not urgent enough to ground the plane.

Olivier said he believes there is a desire for the president to fly on longer trips without having to make a stop. The ability to fly without stopping would be a slight security improvement.

Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula rubbished claims that the new plane would cost up to R4 billion, as has been quoted in the media. She said the department had never mentioned the cost of the aircraft, and she did not know where the R4 billion figure had come from.

However, Olivier affirmed that the cost to replace the current jet was about R4 billion, while the cost of a second hand plane is R2 billion.

More on the presidential jet

Deal for new VIP jet for Zuma moves ahead

R4 billion Zuma jet back on the cards after ’embarrassing’ old one breaks down

Zuma jet a ‘strategic asset’ not a toy

This is what Zuma’s R4 billion plane could look like

New R4-billion jet for Zuma: report

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Expert points out why Zuma doesn’t need a new Jet