IAI steps up effort to expand business jet offering

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is increasingly focused on re-establishing its presence in the business jet market, and has held a series of meetings with prospective partners in recent weeks to discuss potential projects.

The urgency of this initiative was triggered by the 2016 decision to end production of the Gulfstream G150, which IAI built under licence. It leaves the Israeli company's business jet involvement limited to just the G280, for which it builds the fuselage and empennage as well as performing final assembly of the type.

However, weak demand across the business jet sector has led to falling sales of the super-midsize aircraft in recent years, leaving IAI’s manufacturing capabilities underutilised.

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Sources close to IAI tell FlightGlobal that finding another business jet programme is a “must” in order to increase income and bolster its design and manufacturing capabilities.

The company is believed to favour a programme which will involve designing and building an aircraft “from scratch”, says the source. It will also consider taking a major role in an existing or future programme.

IAI’s ambition to increase its role in the business jet market is nothing new and it has made a number of attempts over the years to broaden its offering.

FlightGlobal reported in April that the company was in negotiations with Chinese manufacturer AVIC to develop and build an advanced business jet. IAI will not disclose the status of these talks, but they are believed to be ongoing.

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In 2015, it became involved in an effort to develop a six-seat executive jet that would offer low-cost travel at ranges of up to 1,300nm (2,400km). The status of this programme is unclear, however.

IAI's previous involvement in two light business jet programmes – the two-seat Javelin personal jet and Avocet ProJet very light jet – have faltered due to lack of funding.

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