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That broken government jet has FINALLY been sold off

The Gulfstream IV had been out of action since last summer.

A Gulfstream IV, similar to the Government jet.
A Gulfstream IV, similar to the Government jet.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

THE GOVERNMENT’S GULFSTREAM IV jet, one of two aircraft that had been used for official State business, has been sold for $500,000.

The jet was grounded in the US last summer after problems were discovered during routine maintenance and now the aircraft, which is over two decades old, has been sold off.

The sale, to a US-based company, was completed last December for $500,000 or around €460,000 at current exchange rates. The jet has been re-registered to a firm in Florida, TheJournal.ie has learned.

The Department of Defence said the decisions was made based on the number of flying hours, the age of the aircraft and the cost of repairs.

In January, Defence Minister Simon Coveney was quoted on Flying in Ireland as saying he had made the decision that the State was not going to spend any more money on trying to make the ageing jet fit for purpose given it had been grounded since last summer.

Given the budgetary position the country was facing and the Government had to manage in the past four years, we had to ensure we were not spending money on an aeroplane that was really at the end of its life. Accordingly, we stopped spending money.

On 27 July last year the jet was flown to Gulf Aerospace Corporation in the US state of Georgia for routine annual maintenance.

It was here that problems were detected with the undercarriage of the plane during routine maintenance checks and it has been grounded ever since.

The Department of Defence said:

During this inspection, it became apparent that the servicing and repair of the aircraft would have involved a significantly higher level of investment than was anticipated. Given the number of flying hours achieved and the age of the craft it was decided that the aircraft would be withdrawn from service and would not be returned back to Ireland.

Conveney said the government continues to operate on one smaller, shorter aircraft, a Learjet. He said he does not expect the government to purchase a new jet “any time soon” given budget constraints.

Replacing the jet with one of a similar age could cost around €4 million but a newer model would cost up to €40 million. An inter-departmental group is currently examining the future options for the Ministerial Air Transport Service (MATS) with Coveney to bring its final report to government with recommendations.

“We have been managing with one smaller aircraft. I accept that this is not ideal at times, given the number of people who may need to travel with the Taoiseach or the President. However, it has not caused significant problems,” Coveney said.

The Gulfstream, which is 24 years old, was earmarked for abandonment in Brian Lenihan’s Budget in December 2010, having racked up over 13,000 flying hours.

However in 2012, when both jets were still operational, Coveney’s predecessor at the Department of the Defence, Alan Shatter, said he had no intention of getting rid of either of the government jets.

Read: Use of Government jets for EU-related trips doubles during Ireland’s presidency

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Hugh O'Connell

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