Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) is struggling to launch its planned Airtruck cargo turboprop project, having failed to secure any firm orders for the aircraft.

IAI developed the Airtruck to a FedEx requirement for a new turboprop cargo aircraft to replace its Fokker F27 turboprop freighters (Flight International, 20-27 August, 1997). FedEx requires a cargo turboprop aircraft capable of carrying five standard- size containers over a range of about 1,850km (1,000nm), at 300kt (550km/h).

The US freight carrier is willing to guarantee the purchase of 100 aircraft, at a unit cost of $10 million. IAI sources say this production run is not enough to achieve the FedEx price requirement, so other customers have been sought.

These have not led to any solid commitment, and IAI sources confirm that the programme faces major obstacles. Although the project has not been cancelled, IAI "needs a customer for another 100 aircraft to keep the price in the limit set by the prime potential customer", the IAI source says.

In 1997, El AI prepared a generic design of the Airtruck, which meets FedEx's requirements, and began to seek risk-sharing subcontractors. Negotiations have taken place in Europe and the Far East, with potential subcontractors offered the manufacturing deals for major sections of the aircraft.

Source: Flight International