Bulgaria’s government said on February 27 that cancelled plans to buy new aircraft for the 28th Air Detachment, in charge of flying Bulgaria’s state and government officials.
In a terse statement, the government media office said that the Cabinet decided to end negotiations for the delivery of a new aircraft to carry out special purpose flights.
In December, the Cabinet allocated 55 million leva, or about 28.1 million euro, for the acquisition of a new government jet and construction of a new hangar for maintenance and storage operations.
Before the weekly Cabinet sitting on February 27, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that the money would be re-allocated to build better physical education facilities in 50 schools, as well as repairs to three football stadiums – two in Plovdiv and one in Shoumen.
“The other day, the autopilot failed to function again during the test flight. Fortunately it was during daylight. Now we will have to pay a lot of money for repairs in Geneva,” he said, as quoted by Bulgarian National Radio (BNR).
Earlier in the week, the Dassault Falcon 2000 business jet experienced the latest in a series of incidents, as it was carrying out the mandatory test flight before it was scheduled to take Borissov to Greece.
Although the Cabinet never said it outright, the Falcon jet was the one slated for replacement – Bulgaria’s 28th Air Detachment also operates an Airbus 319 – according to reports in local media, after experiencing a string of issues in recent years.
This included an incident in November 2019 when it had to make a manual landing after its navigation system failed. The incident happened with Prime Minister Boiko Borissov onboard, during approach to Sofia Airport on a flight from Thessaloniki.
“I heard all sorts of idiots talk about it as if it is one of the best and we wanted an even better one. We will not be be buying, let someone else buy later,” Borissov said before the Cabinet meeting, as quoted by BNR.
(Dassault Falcon 2000 jet currently in use by 28th Air Detachment)