Ari Egozi/TEL AVIV

ISRAEL AIRCRAFT Industries (IAI) is set to conclude a deal with the US family, which owns the Hyatt hotel chain, to become partners in the Galaxy business-jet programme. In return, a new company is being set up to replace IAI's North American marketing arm, Astra Jet, with a joint-venture organisation.

Conclusion of the deal with the Prizcker family-owned company is dependent on a guarantee by the Israeli Government on the $50 million which the US family is expected to invest initially in the programme. IAI had been teamed with Russian manufacturer Yakovlev, but difficulties in its Saratov production plant forced the Israeli company to look for another partner in mid-1995 (Flight International, 2-8 August, 1995).

Yakovlev was to have manufactured the fuselage and empennage of the Galaxy prototypes. Since then, IAI has been looking for an alternative partner to share production and invest in the whole programme, including marketing. The exercise has delayed the project for more than a year.

If the deal is finally agreed, it is expected that Astra Jet will be dissolved and a new 50:50 company, owned by the two parties, created to market and support the Galaxy and Astra in North America.

IAI says that assembly of the Galaxy prototype is scheduled to begin in September. The prototype is due, to begin test flights in 1997. Once the aircraft is in series production, the Galxys will be flown to the USA for completion.

Roy Bergstrom unexpectedly resigned as president of Astra Jet in May, with former Learjet president Brian Barents poised to take over (Flight International, 15-21 May). It is unclear whether Barents is destined to take over as head of the new organisation.

Source: Flight International