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Mechanics caused $4M in damage to Air Force One in 2016

By Allen Cone
Air Force One sits at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., where President Donald Trump was in Louisville on March 20 to attend a campaign rally. Three Boeing mechanics caused $4 million in damage on one of the president's two planes. Photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer/U.S. Air National Guard/UPI
Air Force One sits at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., where President Donald Trump was in Louisville on March 20 to attend a campaign rally. Three Boeing mechanics caused $4 million in damage on one of the president's two planes. Photo by Lt. Col. Dale Greer/U.S. Air National Guard/UPI

May 11 (UPI) -- Three Boeing mechanics servicing an Air Force One plane caused $4 million in damage and increased the risk of a fire in mid-flight if not corrected, according to a federal investigation.

One of the two 747-200B aircraft, which is designated as Air Force One when the president flies, was being serviced at a Boeing plant in San Antonio from April 1-10, 2016, according to an incident report released by Air Force investigators this week.

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The oxygen system became contaminated when mechanics "caused the mishap by supplying and using non-oxygen clean tools, parts, components, a regulator, and an unauthorized cleaning procedure while performing oxygen system leak checks," according to the report.

Any residue must be removed it comes in contact with oxygen.

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If not fixed, a contaminated oxygen system could increase the risk of fire or even cause an explosion, the report said.

"Boeing fully understands the level of responsibility that comes from working on the president's aircraft," Boeing told CNN in a written statement.

The incident report also noted three deficiencies by Boeing: 1) One mechanic failed to observe "explicit warnings" on cleanliness working on the oxygen system; 2) In adequate oversight over the "timeliness and quality" of maintenance performed"; 3) Mechanics didn't "absorb or retain" oxygen system training and cleanliness procedures.

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"We took swift action to self-report the incident to the U.S. Air Force. The oxygen system was remediated by Boeing at no cost to the government," the company's statement said.

The Air Force has determined the plane meets all Federal Aviation Administration and Air Force requirements after inspection, according to Boeing.

The plane was returned to the Air Force, which it is preparing for presidential service.

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Boeing builds and services the president's two VC25 jets, which are military versions of the Boeing 747.

The two Air Force One jets were ordered by President Ronald Reagan and delivered in 1990 during George H.W. Bush's administration.

Boeing has a contract two build two Air Force One jets.

"They were close to signing a $4.2 billion deal to have a new Air Force One," Trump said at a rally on Febl 18 in Melbourne, Fla. Can you believe this? I said, 'No way.' I said, 'I refuse to fly in a $4.2 billion airplane. I refuse.'"

Trump said he's negotiated $1 billion in savings for the planes, an amount the Air Force can't account for.

The two new jets would replace the two planes by at least 2024 -- three years past Trump's tenure if he is voted out of office after one term.

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