“All confidence” in government Learjet gone after last-minute technical issue left minister unable to fly to Brussels

The Department of Defence told the Air Corps that “all confidence” in the government’s €8 million government Learjet was gone and that it needed to be taken out of service full time.

In an email, Department of Defence Secretary General Jacqui McCrum said the aircraft had yet again let them down after Minister Simon Harris arrived at Baldonnel for a scheduled flight to Belgium only to be told he couldn’t fly.

In a message to the Defence Forces Chief of Staff Seán Clancy, she wrote: “As discussed, all confidence in the Lear is gone. I know that [staff member] was speaking to [Air Corps] about the retirement of same and that a report is to be [or is] being prepared.

“I will await your comments, but in my view, it has to be taken out of service full time now. We cannot provide an appropriate [government transport] service with it, and we cannot risk ministers missing critical meetings or being stranded.”

The latest controversy began in early December when Higher Education Minister Simon Harris was due to travel on an early-morning flight to Brussels only for the jet to be deemed out of service at the last minute.

An email from an Air Corps officer said: “I informed Minister Harris of the issue in person and outlined some potential timelines based on other aircraft types.

“Based on this, he advised that they would not plan to travel to Brussels today.”

A copy of the heavily redacted documents below: