ISRAEL'S ISRAVIATION has set a new schedule for certification of the ST-50 single-turboprop business aircraft, following delays caused by funding difficulties and the recent military action in Israel. Certification is now scheduled for October 1997, with deliveries beginning in December 1997.

Israviation president Stephane Juffa says that the factory at Tel-Hai, on the border with Lebanon, was closed for three weeks earlier this year after coming under fire during Israel's Operation "Grapes of Wrath" action against Hezbullah guerillas. He says that 14 Katyusha rockets fired from southern Lebanon landed on the periphery of the Tel-Hai industrial park, causing some damage to the Israviation plant. The Israeli Government has promised compensation to repair the damage and cover the delay, he says.

The disruption came as Israviation was recovering from problems with funding for the ST-50, caused when a Government account, which provided loans to support Israeli industry, ran dry in the middle of 1995. Private investors continued to fund the programme, Juffa says, and a new agreement was reached with the Israeli Government in December 1995.

Funds are now coming through at the rate needed to support the revised schedule. "I do not see any kind of danger to the project," Juffa maintains.

Flight-testing of the proof-of-concept ST-50, built in the USA by Cirrus Design, was completed in May, although the aircraft continues to be used to test refinements planned for the two conforming prototypes now under construction at Israviation. Structural testing will begin in July. The first prototype, is scheduled to be flown in December.

Israviation plans a sales tour of four European cities in August-September. Juffa says that negotiations are in the final stages with ten organisations in Europe, mainly in Germany, which will each take delivery of three ST-50s and become base stations for a timeshare scheme involving the business aircraft.

The text entry for Israviation in the Corporate Aircraft Directory (Flight International 12-18 June, P48) was inaccurate. Contrary to the report, the ST-50 programme has not been suspended.

Source: Flight International