Pentagon Investigating Why Boeing Workers in San Antonio Lacked Credentials to Work on Air Force One

March 24, 2023

Mar. 23—The Pentagon is examining why Boeing Co. employees did not have proper security credentials when working on Air Force One planes in San Antonio.

A Boeing spokeswoman said Thursday afternoon that it temporarily suspended the affected employees from accessing secured areas around the presidential jets being outfitted at the company's Port San Antonio facilities.

She declined to disclose how many employees lacked credentials but said they had been cleared to access the secured spaces as of this past Sunday.

The plane maker characterized the situation as an "administrative issue," said it notified the Air Force when it was discovered and is working with the military to determine "why the proper paperwork for access was not submitted for renewal as expected."

"No Boeing employee has lost their security clearance nor had it suspended; all the affected employees have a current, valid Top Secret clearance," the spokeswoman said.

According to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the issue, an Air Force spokesman said the lapse was the result of Boeing failing to submit the credentials for renewal. The newspaper also cited unidentified sources in putting at 250 the number of Boeing employees involved.

"The Air Force is taking the situation very seriously and believes the Boeing Company is making every effort to quickly resolve this issue," the Air Force spokeswoman told the Journal, adding that Boeing reported it on March 14.

Boeing told the Express-News it was taking the issue seriously and is committed to resolving it. " Boeing treats security of presidential aircraft with the highest priority," the spokeswoman said.

She said operations in the restricted areas "have not, and have never been, halted."

"There has been no impact to the ... schedule as a result of the documentation issues," she said.

The company declined to disclose how many employees work on the Air Force One program in San Antonio. In January, it said total employment in San Antonio was about 3,000.

In addition to its work on existing and new presidential jets, Boeing's Port San Antonio facility is the service depot for the military's Boeing C-17 Globemaster transport planes and has upgraded F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-15E fighter jets at the site.

The security credential lapse represents the latest problem for Boeing's program to build a new presidential jet, a 2018 contract that includes work being done at the Port. In late 2021, Boeing said it was investigating two empty miniature tequila bottles found on one of its new Air Force One planes under development. Last spring, it said factory problems disrupted production of the new presidential fleet, which was already far behind schedule.

The new presidential jets were initially expected to arrive by the end of 2024. The Air Force has said delays in the project could keep the current presidential jets flying through the 2028 election.

The highly classified jets, which will be known as Air Force One when the commander-in-chief is on board, are heavily modified 747-8 Boeing aircraft known as VC-25B military variants.

eric.killelea@express-news.net

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