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The New England Patriots announced in August that they would become the first NFL team to own an aircraft, instead of getting around on leased planes, and now the most recent Super Bowl champs have unveiled their new Boeing 767s. The team displayed the wide-body jet at a ceremony at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island (PVD).
With the rising cost of chartering airplanes, the Patriots purchased two 767s in order to ferry the team and staff around the country. According to Airfleets.net, the 767-323ER that was shown off on Wednesday was operated by American Airlines from 1991 through 2016 and sat in storage until the Patriots picked it up. The aircraft’s registration number is N36NE and is operated by an entity named Team 125.
American Airlines was a large operator of charter flights for football teams until recently when it announced that it would no longer fly the Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins due to a lack of aircraft.
The Patriots released a video showing off the aircraft and its interior on Tuesday. The jet is totally decked out in Patriots livery and the cabin appears to be outfitted in a 2-3-2 and 2-2-2 configuration with what looks like domestic first class recliner seats. Each seat appears to have a large IFE screen in the headrest.
“We got the widest and largest seats that you can put on this plane,” Jim Nolan, Gillette Stadium COO, said in the video. “We’ve added five inches of leg room beyond what a typical first-class seat has.” TPG might disagree with Nolan, since lie-flat seats exist on similar aircraft — or what about the Etihad Residence?
Nolan added that the team didn’t go with narrowbody aircraft because they “don’t have the amount of seats or the amount of capacity underneath the plane to handle the number of people we travel [with] or the amount of equipment we travel [with].”
The 767 has been dubbed the ‘Airkraft’ as a nod to the Patriots’ owner, Robert K. Kraft. According to Patriots president Jonathan Kraft, the two jets will be based out of T.F. Green Airport — about a 33-mile drive from Gillette Stadium.
The Airkraft flew its inaugural flight on Wednesday, from Providence (PVD) to Tampa (TPA) where the Patriots will face off with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday.
Seats appear to be adorned with headrest displaying certain players numbers. Tom Brady’s number 12 and Matthew Slater’s number 18 are on two of the seats. The aircraft’s tail also is painted with the team’s five Super Bowl trophies, although it appears that there isn’t much room to add any more.
The second 767 has yet to be shown and will reportedly be used as a backup for the team.
Featured Image by Boston Globe contributor/Getty Images.
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