While going through an article on AFO, I came across this little piece of info:

enter image description here

So, does it have retractable steps on all its exit doors? How does it manage doors like these?

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ I would say that your second photo shows pretty clearly that the statement contained in the first one is false. $\endgroup$ – Federico Mar 11 '15 at 12:05
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    $\begingroup$ @frederico The second photo shows they don't always use a retractible staircase, not that it doesn't have one nor that it isn't used in less-secure environments. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Mar 11 '15 at 16:12
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    $\begingroup$ @kevin (it's FEderico, no "r") no, you can see that there is no staircase: it is neither behind the door nor there is a staircase van beneath the door itself. $\endgroup$ – Federico Mar 11 '15 at 17:11
  • $\begingroup$ If it's retractible, why would they extend it if they have a real staircase? Also, that's a different door, I wouldn't necessarily assume it's both or neither. It certainly makes sense to have a retractible staircase in case they should ever have to land somewhere without one. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Mar 11 '15 at 17:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Kevin The claim is that each exit has a staircase; the existence of an exit without a staircase means the claim is false. There is no staircase on that exit. Therefore, the claim is false. In fact, they have a staircase on some doors; this is clearly shown by image one. They also use ground-provided staircases when possible, as shown in image two. $\endgroup$ – cpast Mar 11 '15 at 21:13

There is page by cryptome with documentation about AF1 rescue options.

According to the "TECHNICAL ORDER 00-105E-9, 1 FEBRUARY 2006, REVISION 11." (15 April 2006), slide 71 "AIRSTAIR OPERATION VC-25A", Boeing VC-25 has only two exits equipped with own airstairs, only at doors from lower compartments. Doors at main deck have no integrated airstairs.


First photo in the question shows forward airstairs operation, and there is photo of aft airstairs, used in 2006.

According to this slide from the same PDF, there are 5 pairs of entry doors on main deck by design of the Boeing 747-200 plane; but 3 or them (1R, 3L, 3R) are blocked on VC-25 and can't be used. All doors from main deck have no own retractable stairs.

Also, from here:

Unlike a normal 747, the plane has its own retractable stairways, for the rear entrance and the front entrance. These stairways open onto the lower deck, and crew members and staff climb internal staircases to get to the upper decks.

  • $\begingroup$ Both stairs used: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/… ("File:The two Boeing VC-25A Air Force One.jpg" 23 October 2003, Hawaii, by CPL Roman Gray, USMC) $\endgroup$ – osgx May 10 '17 at 13:07

It doesn't have retractable stairs on every door; the second picture shows mobile stairs to the upper exit (you can see the driver's cabin behind the crowd).

If mobile stairs aren't available the president will descend to the lower level and use the built in stairs at the lower exit as shown in the first picture. If they are available (and deemed to be safe by the bodyguards) they will be used.

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    $\begingroup$ Would I be correct in assuming that this is at least 90% of the reason the lower exit exists in the first place? $\endgroup$ – cpast Mar 11 '15 at 13:15
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    $\begingroup$ You can't put a number on it like that, but it's the primary reason that there is a lower exit, yes. $\endgroup$ – Jon Story Mar 11 '15 at 13:42
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    $\begingroup$ They're clearly using a mobile truck in that picture, but are you sure there aren't retractable airstairs in the floor by that door? $\endgroup$ – raptortech97 Mar 12 '15 at 1:51
  • $\begingroup$ @cpast, The 747 was notably designed with both passenger and cargo operation in mind. The lower deck doors on the VC-25 are in the same position (though reduced in size I think) as the lower cargo doors on a 747 cargo variant. I imagine the original airframe design for the 747 always had structural provision for openings in those positions. $\endgroup$ – RedGrittyBrick Apr 24 '16 at 13:58
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    $\begingroup$ @RedGrittyBrick, the lower forward airstair on the VC-25 are unique to the two aircraft and were custom designed for that aircraft. It also required major redesign of the fuel and hydraulic system. The initial intent was in the event the aircraft went to an airport that didn't have a 747 ladder truck. I was on the USAF team that bought the aircraft and was in most of the design meetings for that feature. Don't know when the aft airstair was added. $\endgroup$ – Majortomski Mar 6 '17 at 18:06

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