Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) is in talks with potential partners in Europe and Asia over its Airtruck project for a small turboprop cargo aircraft, and is expected to decide within the next few weeks whether it is able to present formal proposals to customer FedEx.

FedEx has a requirement for a new twin-engined turboprop to replace its fleet of 36 Fokker F27 freighters and has been in talks with IAI, Saab Aircraft and Ayres about its development .

The cargo carrier has issued a baseline specification that the aircraft should be able to carry five standard-size cargo containers over 1,800km (1,000nm) at 300kt (450km/h). The aircraft must have a unit price of less than $10 million, and FedEx could buy 100 aircraft and possibly further options.

IAI has prepared an outline design of the Airtruck for FedEx, and is now in negotiations with manufacturers in the Far East and central Europe about involvement to help reduce the development costs and meet FedEx's price requirements. The companies, which include South Korea's Commercial Aircraft Development Consortium, are being offered production of major airframe sections. If the Airtruck is selected by FedEx, then IAI plans to fly the prototype in 2001.

Source: Flight International