Firm owned by Saudi businessman, but assures only US citizen employees have access to plane. Value of contract unknown.
USA TODAY | by Tom Vanden Brook — A company owned by a Saudi investor works on Air Force One and other VIP aircraft that fly Cabinet secretaries and other dignitaries around the world, USA TODAY has learned.
GDC Technics has been servicing President Obama’s jet as a contractor for Boeing, according to the Air Force. This is the first time the Pentagon has acknowledged that a contractor from a business with foreign ties has worked on Air Force One.
The company was bought in 2013 by MAZ Aviation, which is owned by Saudi businessman Mohammed Alzeer. It also has operations in Fort Worth, Texas, and in Germany. The Air Force considers the security of Air Force One a top priority, said Lt. Col. Chris Karns, a spokesman. The White House declined to comment.
No foreign nationals have access to Air Force One at any time, Karns said. Generally, GDC employees complete work on furnishings in San Antonio, and Boeing employees re-install items on the plane. But GDC employees who are U.S. citizens with proper background checks are escorted on to Air Force One to conduct repairs, he said.
Under a 2007 law passed in the wake of the Dubai Ports World controversy, any acquisition of a U.S. company that could have an impact on national security is supposed to be reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. But GDC Technics was acquired in 2013, before the current contract, and it’s unclear whether the committee considered it.
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