Renzi has swanky new jet - but nobody can fly it

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Premier Matteo Renzi's new jet is not airbound yet as no air force pilots can fly it. Photo: John Thys Pool/AFP
16:07 CET+01:00
Two months after being leased at €1 million a month, the swanky jet intended to fly premier Matteo Renzi around the world is grounded - until an Italian Air Force pilot can learn how to fly it.

The Italian government leased the aircraft from Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways in October, simply because it could no longer have its leaders being flown around in what was one of the smallest presidential planes among its G8 counterparts - the UK, France, Germany, Japan, the US, Canada and Russia. The plane also had to stop every five hours for a refuel.

The new 'Air Force One' was lavishly decked-out with an ensuite bathroom and a conference room for Renzi and his staff - all for the princely sum of €1 million a month.

But shortly after the A340-500 aircraft arrived in Rome, a couple of snags cropped-up: not only was nobody qualified to fly it, but the plane was too big to take off and land from Rome's Ciampino airport.

"At the moment no air force pilots – who are the only ones authorized to fly the presidential jet – are qualified to fly the plane," an experienced long haul pilot told Italian journalist Max Laudadio in a show broadcast for the satirical TV programme, Striscia La Notizia.

"People are currently being trained."

The pilot also said that the plane's wingspan is too big for the runway at Ciampino, from where presidential jets in the past have taken off and landed.

"So it would have serious problems during taxiing.”

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Renzi's controversial new wings has been surrounded in secrecy. It is not clear who sanctioned the jet or why, and the aircraft has been the subject of much criticism and speculation in the Italian press.

“I'm really not sure they consulted the Italian Air Force about it,” the pilot added. “They could have got by just fine with what we had before.”

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