Israeli involvement in six-seat business jet will help the manufacturer attract funding

Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) is undertaking design verification of the VisionAire Vantage and may eventually manage all technical aspects of the six-seat, single engine business jet programme.

The move is designed to slash staffing levels and programme costs, and to accelerate development of the all-composite Vantage, says St Louis, Missouri-based VisionAire.

Tel Aviv-based IAI will work with Scaled Technology Works (STW), hired by VisionAire to design, develop and certificate the major composite airframe parts for the Vantage, including the wing, airframe and fuselage. STW will also build the production standard prototypes, ground test articles and the first nine production aircraft.

Mark Jones, VisionAire assistant secretary, says: "IAI will essentially have a big brother role, looking over our shoulder, and will feed technical data to STW to incorporate into the hardware."

VisionAire admits Vantage development has been stifled after the aircraft's forced redesign in 1999/2000 to address handling and weight concerns that arose during flight testing. Jones adds: "IAI will review the changes made following the redesign and ensure that subsequent alterations to the aircraft are leading the programme in the right direction. They will also explore other potential improvements."

VisionAire's initial goal is to build a windtunnel model to verify aerodynamic changes as soon as possible.

Five new test articles will be built - two ground test and three flight test - while the original flying prototype will be used for analysis and verification tests.

Funding is still a major issue and with $100 million already spent on the programme VisionAire is seeking at least $120 million to cover total programme costs, says Jones. He adds: "Once we have secured most of the funding we could complete the certification programme in less than 30 months." The price of the Vantage remains unchanged at $2.195 million, he says.

Source: Flight International