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Bruce Drum (AirlinersGallery.com)on March 11, 2018
Janet, sometimes called Janet Airlines, is the unofficial name given to a large and highly classified fleet of passenger aircraft operated for the United States Air Force to transport military and contractor employees. It mainly serves the Nevada National Security Site (most notably Area 51 and the Tonopah Test Range), from a private terminal at Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport.
The fleet's "Janet" call sign, from which its de facto name comes, is said to stand for "Just Another Non-Existent Terminal". It is also sometimes known as "Joint Air Network for Employee Transportation".
Due to the airline's secretive nature, little is known about its organization. It is operated for the USAF by infrastructure and defense contractor AECOM through AECOM's acquisition in 2014 of URS Corporation, which acquired EG&G Technical Services in 2002, as derived from URS's history of providing this service to the Air Force and job openings published by URS.
The first flights from Las Vegas to Area 51 were performed in 1972 by a Douglas DC-6 operated by EG&G. A second Douglas DC-6 was added in 1976 and this type remained in use until 1981.
As of mid-2015, the Janet fleet[ consists of six Boeing 737-600s painted white with a prominent red cheatline. There are also five smaller executive turboprops (two Beechcraft 1900s and three Beechcraft 200Cs) painted white with less prominent blue trim stripes. The fleet is registered to the Department of the Air Force, while some earlier aircraft were registered to several civil aircraft leasing corporations. Before the arrival of the 737-600s, Janet operated Boeing 737-200s, some of which were modified from military T-43A aircraft. One of the 737-200s with registration N5177C in the 1980s was briefly based in Germany at Frankfurt International Airport (which was at the time also home to a USAF base, Rhein-Main Air Base), and operated by Keyway Air Transport, apparently a front company for a US government operation. It was retired on 6 March 2009. Together with the other 737-200s, it was sent to AMARG at Davis–Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona for storage.
All the 737-600 aircraft are ex-Air China and with the exception of N273RH and N365SR were previously operated by the now defunct China Southwest Airlines before being acquired for US Air Force operations starting in 2008. The aircraft were initially taken to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base before being transferred to Las Vegas. Most of the Beechcraft airplanes were sold directly to the Air Force, except for two, which had civilian owners first.
One aircraft, a Beechcraft 1900, was lost on March 16, 2004, when it crashed on approach for Tonopah Test Range Airport after the pilot suffered sudden cardiac arrest. Five people, including the pilot, were killed in the accident.