Shortly after Ricardo Martinelli was sworn in as president of Panama, he replaced an old plane with a state-of-the art aircraft. He said that the more than 40-year-old presidential plane was not safe to fly. He was worried that an accident might occur, similar to a helicopter accident which killed several people, including a high-ranking officer of the Chilean military forces and his wife. It was a tragic event which shocked the nation. The accident occurred in the middle of Panama City, Panama in the neighborhood of Calidonia.
The new plane was donated by the Republic of Taiwan and had a price tag of $22 million. Its first flight was on January 25, 2010 when it flew to Haiti on a humanitarian mission providing medicines and doctors to this fragile Caribbean island.
The new fixed-wing plane is an Embraer EMB-135BJ Legacy identified with the airline code HP-1A, manufactured by the Brazilian company, Embraer (Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica, S.A.). It has the capacity of comfortably accommodating 16 passengers and able to reach the speed of 834 miles per hour at a service ceiling of 41,000 feet.