When Kenya’s Sh2.7 billion presidential jet jammed, delaying the president for hours

The much awaited presidential jet at eastleigh's moi air base is inspected by kenya air force officers as it landed on the kenyan soil on 20.2.1995

Would the prospect of the president’s jet developing a mechanical problem be far-fetched? Such an incident could be rare

—but not entirely improbable.

Bought controversially in 1995 at Sh2.7 billion during President Daniel Moi’s rule, the plane, a Fokker 70 ER, has had problems before.

In February 2002, the door to the president’s jet jammed, delaying President Moi’s departure to the Commonwealth summit in Australia by two hours.

The mishap caused panic and confusion at JKIA. President Moi was already in the plane when the crisis occurred.

It was all systems go before the hydraulics, which power the doors, failed just when the plane was about to take off.

Moi had to disembark from the plane after 20 minutes of waiting. Journalists were prevented from taking pictures of the plane.

Airforce personnel had to fly spare parts in a helicopter from Moi Airbase.

The Fokker Company of the Netherlands started to develop the plane in November 1992 to replace its aging Fokker F28 crafts with a more modern and fuel efficient model.

The company, however, ran bankrupt within two years. The last Fokker 70 was delivered in April 1997, when the production line closed following Fokker’s bankruptcy .

Over the short production life, 47 aircrafts were built. Worldwide, there are only 42 Fokker 70 aircrafts in operation, including the Kenya Airforce One.

Aviation experts say that with such a small fleet in operation, few manufacturers would be willing to invest in spare parts production owing to factors of economies of scale.

Worse still, they say, with the mother company having collapsed

—throw in the intricate affair of obtaining aircraft parts

—and Kenya could have a nightmare in its hands.