In a government report in 2012,1 it was estimated that Air Force One costs the taxpayers $ 179,750 per hour. Air Force One is a custom- built Boeing 747 for the president’s use while in office. (There are technically a few planes that are used as Air Force One; whichever one the president is on is called “Air Force One.”) While the president is in office, the president is ­required by law to use Air Force One for all air travel.
The 747 used for Air Force One has 4,000 square feet of space inside on three levels. In ­addition to having a large office and a conference room, the plane also houses a medical suite and a doctor. The doctor is permanently assigned to Air Force One. The plane has two food preparation galleys that can feed 100 people at a time. There are also quarters on the plane for those people who travel with the president, including senior advisors, Secret Service, and the press. In addition, several cargo jets typically are used to carry extra provisions, people, and equipment.
The $ 179,750 cost per hour estimate includes fuel, maintenance, engineering support, repairs, food and lodging for the pilots and crew, and other costs. It also includes the cost of military staffing for the onboard communications equipment. The cost may also include the costs of flying extra aircraft and costs of advance scouting trips to the destination to make sure that everything goes as planned.
When Air Force One is used for official business, the taxpayers must pay for the traveling costs for the president’s immediate family, Secret Service detail, and the White House staff who are traveling with the president.
When Air Force One is used for political purposes, the president’s campaign fund is required to reimburse the government for the cost of food, lodging, and other related expenses. The campaign fund must also reimburse the government for the amount that is the equivalent of airfare that would have been paid if a commercial airline had been used. The same reimbursement policy is in effect for trips that are categorized as personal trips; the president must reimburse the government for the cost of food, lodging, comparable airfare, and other related expenses.
1. Is the $ 179,750 cost per hour a fixed, variable, or mixed cost? Explain.
2. Exact details about the cost composition of the Air Force One travel are kept secret to protect the president. Use your imagination, and the reading above, to make a list of the costs that you think might be included in $ 179,750 per hour cost estimate.
3. Categorize each cost in your list as fixed, variable, or mixed.
4. The number of trips taken by the president in any given year fluctuates and is dependent upon the political climate, crises, economics, and the like. How useful do you think this cost per hour is?
5. What purpose(s) can the $ 179,750 cost per hour be used for? Are there any purposes for which that cost is not representative of the “true” cost?
6. Can you think of a better way to represent/ communicate the cost of Air Force One?
7. Do you think the reimbursement policy is fair to the president? Why or why not?
8. Do you think the reimbursement policy is fair to the taxpayers? Why or why not?

  • CreatedAugust 27, 2014
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