Israel Aerospace Industries will take a decision imminently on whether to relaunch its own business jet. It comes 17 years after the Israeli defence giant divested its two aircraft programmes and their marketing and completions arm, Galaxy Aerospace to Gulfstream parent General Dynamics, and as Yosef Melamed, head of IAI’s new aviation group, looks to bolster the company's presence in non-military markets, following the merger of three former divisions.
Following the sale of the Astra SPX and Galaxy in 2001, IAI continued to build under licence what evolved into the Gulfstream G150 and G280.
However, since the Savannah-based airframer delivered the final example of the midsize G150 in the first half of last year, IAI has been left relying on the super-midsize G280, which it assembles at its campus at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport and is derived from the original Galaxy.
"We are thinking about what to do. If we can find a niche, we will enter it," says Melamed, who, as well as the business jet line, is now responsible for IAI's manned military aircraft, commercial aerostructures, and Bedek airliner maintenance and passenger-to-freighter conversions businesses.
However, he is clear that any move will not be in competition with Gulfstream or in partnership with any its direct rivals. "We are loyal," he insists.
According to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Gulfstream delivered 23 G150s and G280s in the first nine months of 2017. Its best full year was 2015, when 34 examples of the two types were shipped.