Gov. Ron DeSantis will soon be flying the friendly skies of Florida in a brand-new, midsize business jet, according to bid documents filed this week by the state.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement put out a bid solicitation on Thursday for the aircraft, after lawmakers set aside more than $3.8 million for the plane and personnel to fly it and maintain it in the new $91.1 billion state budget for 2019-20. Politico Florida first reported the bid filing.
The state jet must accommodate two pilots and at least eight passengers, according to the bid proposal. The passenger compartment will include at least four “executive seats” and will have a Wi-Fi system. The plane must be capable of reaching up to 45,000 feet above sea level.
The jet must be new — meaning it had “never previously been registered, having a date of manufacture of 2018 or newer, having less than 100 hours total time on airframe at time of bid submission,” according to the solicitation document.
Bidders can offer custom configurations and interior upgrades to the aircraft, but those modifications must be included in the total bid price, according to the state. The price must also cover training for two FDLE pilots who will fly the aircraft.
The bid proposal describes a 20-year payment plan for the plane with a fixed interest rate.
Bids are due by June 13.
The state sold its last executive planes after former Gov. Rick Scott, a multi-millionaire businessman, took office in 2011. Scott used his own personal jet to travel the state and other regions as a two-term governor, which made it impossible for the public to know the governor’s whereabouts. (Here’s journalist Lucy Morgan’s history of Scott and the state’s executive planes, which were previously used by both governors and state Cabinet members.
After DeSantis took office in January, he began using a 16-year-old King Air B300 that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement bought in a 2016 surplus sale. But the plane has had some mechanical issues, including a January incident that forced an emergency landing while DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody were traveling to South Florida.
The King Air, which has been repaired, will remain in service along with the new executive jet once it is purchased, according to state officials.