Recently, Prime Minister David Cameron sparked controversy when he and his aides flew to Indonesia around Easter in a rented Boeing 747 owned by an Angolan carrier banned from the EU over safety concerns that was leased from an American company. Even more embarrassing was the purpose of the mission: To convince Garuda Indonesia airlines to buy 11 European made Airbus 330 aircraft.
Apparently, they would normally charter British Airways or Virgin Atlantic aircraft for foreign travel but both airlines were busy during Easter. Hence and in the future, the Royal Family along with senior UK politicians may consider using one of the RAF’s “Voyager” Airbus A330 tanker aircraft to make foreign trips to avoid any further embarrassments. After all, Britain does not have a dedicated aircraft like Air Force One or the private Airbus jets used by French and German leaders to jet around the world in.
Moreover and sadly, Britain’s domestic aircraft manufacturing industry is a far cry from what it used to be. A quick search of the Internet reveals that the British aircraft industry once included homegrown aircraft manufacturers such as:
- Armstrong Whitworth
- The British Aircraft Company
- De Havilland
- Franco-British Aviation
- Handley Page
- Hunting Aircraft
- Saunders Roe
- Short Bros
I have probably left out a few companies (feel free to mention them in the comments section) but most almost all of the above names no longer exist. Nevertheless and if there is any consolation, the Wikipedia entry for the aerospace industry of the United Kingdom notes that it:
….is the second- or third-largest national aerospace industry in the world, depending upon the method of measurement. The industry employs around 113,000 people directly and around 276,000 indirectly and has an annual turnover of around £20 billion.
So I guess all is not lost – even if the Prime Minister has been reduced to flying American made jets leased from American companies and owned by Angolans…