- The Netherlands recently acquired a new VIP Boeing Business Jet 737 for its top government officials to use.
- The Dutch royal family, as well as high-ranking officials such as the prime minister, use the aircraft for state business including traveling overseas for state visits.
- King Willem-Alexander, as a licensed pilot, frequently flies the aircraft and it was revealed the royal was flying for fun as a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines co-pilot for 21 years.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands is not your average royal.
While not performing royal duties, the Dutch monarch often takes the skies as a licensed pilot. Willem-Alexander joined the exclusive club of flying royals when he was a prince, joining his counterpart in the UK, Prince Philip, who frequently flew around his kingdom.
While typically flying aircraft in the Dutch government's fleet of VIP aircraft, it was revealed in 2017 that Willem-Alexander flew as a co-pilot for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines for 21 years, according to CNN, flying regional aircraft around Europe around twice a month. The royal kept a low profile, never revealing his identity to passengers.
When KLM retired the aircraft he flew, a Fokker 70, it was time for the king to get upgraded to a larger jet: the Boeing 737. Retraining on the new plane meant Willem-Alexander could also fly the Boeing 737 from the manufacturer's Boeing Business Jet line-u the Netherlands government also acquired.
Take a look inside the Air Force One of the Netherlands, flown by the King Willem-Alexander himself.
Here's the newest member of the Dutch royal family, a Boeing Business Jet 737.
It replaced this Fokker 70, which Willem-Alexander also flew. The public found out in 2017 that in addition to flying this government jet, the king would moonlight as a KLM co-pilot flying the Fokker 70.
This particular model is based on the popular Boeing 737-700 airliner and is a favorite among the BBJ 737 series as it boasts a longer range than most of its counterparts due to its smaller size.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines also has the aircraft in its fleet, which it uses for short to medium-haul flights.
The private jet variant has a flying time of around 12 hours, making nearly anywhere in the world accessible with only one stop from the Netherlands.
And it even comes with its own air-stairs.
The registration, PH-GOV, is also a nod to its new user, Netherlands government. When the royals aren't using it, high-ranking officials of the Dutch government such as the prime minister have access to it.
The European nation took delivery of the plane in 2018, with "Kingdom of the Netherlands" across the side written in Dutch.
Along with the coat of arms for the Netherlands.
The aircraft only consists of three passenger areas: two forward conference/dining areas used as offices by the government officials on board and one passenger seating area in the back of the plane.
Designing the VIP plane was Altea's Robin Dunlop, with Fokker Techniek tasked with installing the interior. It was re-delivered in 2019 with the new interior.
Stepping onboard the aircraft, a small hallway leads to the main passenger areas.
On one side is a cabinet used to store aircraft items such as the glassware.
It also houses coat hangars with stitching in the colors of the Dutch royal standard, blue and orange.
On the other side are crew rest accommodations, with two lie-flat seats for when additional pilots are required on longer journeys.
Here's the main conference area, a six-person section with large tables for working or dining.
This is the primary workspace for traveling officials and also the most private section of the aircraft due to its position in the front of the aircraft and because it only offers six seats.
All seats here can lie-flat and bedding can be applied to make this space into a bedroom.
A large high-definition screen also sits on the sidewall which can be used to display flight information, entertainment, or presentations.
The television, along with the cabin's lights, window shades, and temperature, can be controlled via a downloadable mobile application.
The conference rooms can easily be converted to dining rooms during meal times.
Delftware china is kept on board, an iconic product of the Netherlands.
Attached to this section is the master bathroom, used only by the highest officials onboard.
It features a full sink and vanity, along with a smaller face mirror.
Like most Boeing Business Jets, there's also a walk-in shower.
The shower is ideal for traveling dignitaries to maintain hygiene and stay refreshed as there's often a reception upon arrival at the airport when on a state visit.
The middle section is another conference/dining area complete with eight seats in total, with two larger tables in the center.
The final section of the plane is the main seating area, located behind the wing.
The section spans only three rows and houses 12 first class-style seats.
Support staff such as security, advisors, or media typically stay here during the flight.
The seats also recline flat for when it's time to sleep on the extended overnight or long-haul flights the aircraft is capable of with its 12 hours of range.
The Dutch government was so proud of the plane that it opened up viewing not only media but also regular citizens of the country, a Boeing spokesperson told Business Insider.
The transparency around the project is a far cry from government aircraft in the US, particularly Air Force One which is shrouded in secrecy.
"The project differed from the many privately owned or Middle East-based designs we have delivered previously because it was European and a government project," the jet's designer, Robin Dunlop, said in a press release. "We had not one stakeholder interested, but a whole nation of tax-paying design-savvy observers.
The focus for the Dutch government was functionality so that the aircraft would truly be a flying office for a head of state while also incorporating a design that represents the nation.
Even the seat pillows feature representations of the Netherlands, such as the Dutch-style houses in blue.
But while beautifully appointed, the aircraft doesn't feature the normal luxuries of a Boeing Business Jet such as a private bedroom. Seats throughout the aircraft recline to the full-flat position and can be made into beds if the flight requires.
Here's the cockpit, with the co-pilot's seat also acting as a throne for when the king flies.
Other than its royal occupant, the cockpit is standard for the 737. It also comes with a fighter-jet style heads-up display for the captain which assists when flying in bad weather by using a projector to display information.
The jet was recently spotted in Indonesia while the royals embarked on a state visit to the archipelagic nation in March 2020.
Source: Royal House of the Netherlands
Here's the king at the controls in the co-pilot's seat, along with the royal standard of the Netherlands flying out of the captain's side window.
Just moments after completing the flight as a member of the flight crew, Willem-Alexander donned his suit jacket and deplaned as the king.
While nearly all heads of state have access to government aircraft, not many can say they've flown themselves to state visits.
Receive a daily update on your cellphone with all our latest news: click here.
Get the best of our site emailed to you daily: click here.
Also from Business Insider South Africa:
- The US is buying Covid-19 drug remdesivir like crazy. A generic is coming to SA – cheap.
- A dexamethasone producer in SA has sold out its stock - as demand for the Covid-19 drug surges
- REVEALED: 18 of the worst municipal money horror stories in SA
- Thousands of SA patient records may have been at risk after 'vulnerability'
- WhatsApp now has animated stickers – and you can finally add people through QR codes