A specially equipped Boeing 747-8 donated by Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan landed on Tuesday night at İstanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen Airport to join Turkey’s presidential fleet, the Diken news website reported on Thursday, citing aviation websites.
The airplane was originally to be sold on the secondary market, and the Qataris had set the price at $400 million.
When Erdoğan took an interest in it, the emir of Qatar decided to give it to him as a present due to “his love for Erdoğan and his trust in Turkey,” the report said.
Having a capacity of 400 passengers under normal circumstances, this particular Boeing 747-8 was modified to provide meeting rooms and a bedroom as well as a special infirmary and can carry up to 76 passengers along with a flight crew of 18.
Before landing at Sabiha Gökçen Airport, the airplane was taken to AMAC Aerospace facilities in Basel for inspections. At Sabiha Gökçen, it will be painted and go through some additional modifications.
Last month, Turkish Airlines (THY), Turkey’s national carrier, designated the pilots to serve on this airplane, choosing pilots from its Boeing 777 fleet due to the similarity of cockpits. These pilots received simulator and ground training.
In 2012, after being manufactured to private jet standards at Boeing’s Everett production line near Seattle, the airplane aroused curiosity as to whom it belonged to when it was first sighted on the apron of the plant.
It then was taken to San Antonio, where its cabin was modified on what is referred to as “Very VIP” standards.
Following its delivery to Qatar in 2015, the airplane flew for 436 hours, carrying out a total of 200 takeoffs and landings over the last three years.