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IAI joins effort to develop entry-level business jet

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has become involved in an effort to develop a small executive jet that will offer low cost travel up to 1,300nm (2,400km).

The Israeli company will only confirm the small jet is designed to seat six passengers, and that the basic operational costs will be low. The company is working with an undisclosed partner, and has so far completed the aircraft's initial design.

IAI has previously made two short-lived forays into the low end of the business aircraft market. The first venture came in the late 1990s, when the then Israel Aircraft Industries signed a co-operation agreement with US start-up Avocet to co-develop a very light jet.

The twin-engined ProJet was designed for six passengers, and intended to have the capability to take-off and land in as little as 914m (3,000ft). The type was intended to fly at 365kt (675km/h) up to an altitude of 41,000ft, with a maximum cruising range of 1,200nm.

The programme was cancelled in 2006, after Avocet failed to secure additional partnerships to help complete development.

A year earlier in 2005, IAI established a strategic partnership with Colorado-based start-up Aviation Technology Group, to co-develop the two-seat Javelin personal jet. However, this project was also cancelled two years later, due to a lack of funding.

While IAI's previous involvement with business aircraft start-ups has been unsuccessful, the company has had a long-standing and fruitful partnership with business jet airframer Gulfstream. IAI manufactures the midsize G150 and super-midsize G280 for Gulfstream from its Tel Aviv base. Production rates for both models have suffered, however, due to the international economic situation.

The Israeli company has been searching for a way to utilise its knowledge and capability to design and manufacture aircraft for years. These capabilities were developed in the 1980s to support IAI's Lavi single-engined multirole fighter. However, this programme was cancelled in 1987 as a result of pressure from Washington DC.

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