Ahead of the inauguration of a new President on May 29, 2023, Nigeria’s Boeing 737 Presidential jet has been flown out of the country for comprehensive maintenance, The PUNCH learned Sunday evening.
Villa sources told our correspondent that NAF 001, which has served the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in the past eight years was taken out of the country over the weekend.
Although the location is not known, past maintenance on the aircraft had been carried out by its manufacturer, Boeing, in the United States of America.
Boeing’s military aircraft division builds modified 737 planes at its manufacturing facilities in Everett and Renton, Washington (outside of Seattle), and South Carolina.
The 20-year-old aircraft last flew the President to Accra, the Ghanaian Capital, where he attended a Summit of the Gulf of Guinea Commission.
In his next four weeks in office, Buhari will be flown on another aircraft on the Presidential Air Fleet, the source said.
On Tuesday, April 3, 2001, the Senate approved a sum of N5.5bn for the purchase of a new presidential aircraft for then-President Olusegun Obasanjo.
In February of that year, Obasanjo sought the Senate’s approval for $19m as part of monies to purchase eight new aircraft for the Presidential air fleet.
“It is necessary to start the process of renewing the presidential fleet of aircraft, some of which are 20 years old and beyond,” he had told the upper legislative chamber.
The senate had refused an earlier request by Obasanjo in 2000, but he renewed his request after a technical fault left him stranded in Switzerland where he had been attending the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The Boeing aircraft will be returned in May and handed over to the new administration after major upgrades to its avionics and other mechanical systems.