Boeing personnel working on Air Force One planes had lapsed security clearances
The Department of Defense and Boeing are investigating a security clearance lapse that resulted in hundreds of Boeing employees working on the secretive Air Force One planes with expired credentials before they were temporarily suspended.
Last week, Boeing found that the “Yankee White” security clearances for about 250 employees who work on the Air Force One planes had lapsed. That resulted in their temporary suspension until the issue was resolved and nearly all were reinstated over the weekend. Yankee White clearances are required for Pentagon and contractor personnel who work with the president and vice president or on Air Force One due to its role in presidential security and transportation.
The issue affected Boeing employees who work on the current Air Force One aircraft, known as VC-25A, and the next-generation Air Force One planes that are under development and known as VC-25B. The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news on Thursday, wrote that people familiar with the matter indicated some of the Boeing employees’ clearances had lapsed months or years ago, including at least one case in which the Yankee White clearance expired seven years ago.
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The Air Force and Boeing both confirmed the incident in response to queries by FOX Business and emphasized that there was no impact on the VC-25A and VC-25B operations, which weren’t halted at any time as the situation played out.
“Boeing informed the Air Force last week of a lapse in their Presidential Support Program personnel tracking. As a result, approximately 250 VC-25A and VC-25B personnel had their access to the VC-25A and VC-25B areas temporarily suspended,” an Air Force spokesperson said in a statement. “As of Sunday, 19 March, the vast majority of employees are once again eligible for access to the secured spaces. All of the impacted employees have current, valid Top Secret clearances. None have lost their security clearances nor had them suspended.”
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The spokesperson added that the “Air Force and Boeing continue to work together to provide robust security for VC-25A and VC-25B, and will not comment on specific security matters.” The Air Force “is taking the situation very seriously and believes the Boeing Company is making every effort to quickly resolve this issue through their Root Case/Corrective Action (RCCA) processes.”
A Boeing spokesperson corroborated the timeline of the temporary suspension and reinstatement of the personnel whose security clearances expired.
“There has been no impact to the VC-25B schedule as a result of the documentation issues,” the Boeing spokesperson added. “No Boeing employee has lost their security clearance nor had it suspended; all the affected employees have a current, valid Top Secret clearance.”
The next-generation VC-25B Air Force One program has struggled in recent years with cost overruns and scheduling delays that have resulted in Boeing taking about $1.9 billion in charges on the $3.9 billion fixed-price development contract.
Reuters contributed to this report.