Saturday 6 July saw the new aircraft for the Dutch government and Royal family unveiled to the media and public at a special ceremony. The aircraft, registered as PH-GOV, is a Boeing 737-700 business jet with the wings of a 737-800, and will be used to transport members of the Dutch Government and the Royal family in the years to come. GKN Aerospace’s Fokker Techniek business in Woensdrecht has engineered and produced the specially designed interior of the aircraft, while KLM will be responsible for operations, and take care of crew and maintenance.
Hans Büthker, CEO GKN Aerospace, and John Pritchard, CEO GKN Aerospace ASEA, both attended the presentation at Woensdrecht Air Force Base. During a ceremony John Pritchard symbolically signed the agreement with KLM to maintain the cabin interior for the next four years, before handing over a commemorative painting of the new aircraft, with its predecessor the Fokker 70 KBX (named after Queen Beatrix) in the background.
‘GKN Aerospace colleagues at Fokker Techniek are very proud and honoured, it is wonderful for us to be involved in the new government aircraft once again.’ said John Pritchard. ‘The fact that we can do this highly specialised work in the Netherlands is unique, and many countries would like to do what we can do.’
The PHGOV will stay at Woensdrecht for another few days, as the GKN Aerospace Fokker Techniek team complete the last details to align the aircraft with the KLM fleet, before making its first VIP journey next month. The completion of the interior has taken two years, following the signing of the contract between GKN Aerospace and Boeing at the Paris Air Show in 2017. The aircraft will be based at Schiphol.
The interior of the aircraft is fully customised for the Dutch Government and completely different from its predecessor, the Fokker 70. The new aircraft has the latest SatCom technologies on board and enables working online and making calls with mobile phones during flights. An audio / video on demand system is available, its speakers are invisibly integrated behind the cabin panels, a unique solution developed together with the TU Twente. The noise level in the cabin has become a lot lower, and for the interior, lightweight materials were selected, the weight of the interior stayed well below the requirements. The CO2 emission of the aircraft is 20% less than the Fokker 70. The aircraft also has a bathroom and a reservoir with enough water for a 20-minute shower per flight. The PH-GOV is equipped with extra kerosene tanks and can reach the overseas territories of the Netherlands without a stop.
‘The aircraft offers a comfortable place to work and to rest,’ said Hans Büthker. ‘it has a professional business look with Dutch accents. In addition to the familiar blue colour of the Dutch government, there are Delft blue accents in the interior and there is a subtle spark of orange on the wing. GKN Fokker Techniek has done a great job and it is a great honour for GKN Aerospace to support the transport of the Dutch Government and the Royal family this way.’
Although the aircraft will be used primarily by members of the government, King Willem-Alexander has been trained as a pilot, and is a guest flyer for KLM, licenced to fly the Boeing 737, so that he can fly the PHGOV himself on the way to a state visit!