Arie Egozi/TEL AVIV Max Kingsley-Jones/LONDON

Flight International has obtained the first detailed technical specifications on Israel Aircraft Industries' (IAI) Airtruck, as the Israeli company struggles to find a large enough customer base to launch its proposed twin turboprop freighter.

IAI began developing the Airtruck several years ago to meet a requirement from US express parcels carrier FedEx for a new- generation freighter to replace Boeing 727s and Fokker F27s on hub feeder services. FedEx pledged a requirement for around 100 aircraft, but it is thought this has been reduced. IAI seeks more sales to enable it to launch the aircraft.

IAI is known to need more customers to ensure the freighter can be produced for a unit price within FedEx's limit of $10 million. With no additional sales, the unit price is believed to be about 50% too high.

The Israeli company also seeks risk-sharing subcontractors to manufacture major sections of the aircraft. Negotiations for sales and partners have been conducted in Europe and the Far East.

In documentation obtained by Flight International, IAI claims that it has "potential orders from several leading airlines for more than 100 aircraft, plus 200 options". It adds that it is "meeting launch customers regularly to define the aircraft for full-scale development".

With an overall cabin height of 2.44m (8ft) and a width of 3.18m, the Airtruck's cross-section is similar in size to the Lockheed Martin Hercules and is compatible with standard 8 x 8ft M1pallets. The baseline Airtruck C-5Wa, equipped with a 2.74m-wide by 2.59m-high aft cargo door, can accommodate five M1 cargo pallets. A larger version with greater payload capacity is being studied.

At a take-off weight of 35,400kg (76,000lb) the C-5Wa can carry its maximum payload of 12,500kg over 1,760km (950nm) at a cruise speed of 300kt (555km/h). An engine has not been selected. A payload of 10,000kg permits maximum fuel to be carried over 2,780km.

It is designed for a 30-year service life.

Source: Flight International