Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson departed at 8.30am on Tuesday for Balmoral Castle in Scotland for an audience with Queen Elizabeth II. About an hour later, the country’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, took off from the same Northolt Air Force Base in London to make a similar journey.
In common, the two members of the Conservative Party, who made official the exchange of positions with the monarch, used the same type of aircraft, the French Dassault Falcon 900LX, a long-range executive trijet that was received by the Royal Air Force (RAF) this year.
The two aircraft, which still sport an unmarked white livery were acquired in February for around $100 million with the mission to replace the two old BAe 146-100 four-engine aircraft that were used since the 80’s as a VIP transport.
The first of the Falcon 900LXs, the G-ZAHS, renamed the Envoy IV CC Mk1, was delivered in late April while the second, G-ZABH, was received by the RAF in early August.
Full military service from 2024
Early on Tuesday morning, the white jets were shown by the media as Boris Johnson and his wife embarked for Scotland and soon after, the new prime minister.
According to the RAF, the Envoy IVs are operated in partnership with the Bristol-based company Centreline and are expected to receive military communications equipment and protection systems by 2024.
“The Envoy aircraft personnel transport key military and diplomatic personnel around the world quicker and more efficiently than before. They can fly further, faster, and more sustainably than the aircraft they have replaced,” says the RAF.
“The original Envoy aircraft in RAF service was the Airspeed Envoy, first flown in 1934. It was a twin-engine light transport aircraft, used by the RAF across Marks I, II (as the Oxford) and III, before and during World War 2 in the communications role; one of which served with the ‘Kings Flight’, the precursor to today’s No 32 (The Royal) Squadron,” the air force explained.