IAI and Gulfstream Launch New Business Jet - Despite Crisis

Israel Aeronautics Industries and Gulfstream Aerospace, a subsidiary of the U.S. corporation General Dynamics, rolled out the new super mid-sized G250 business jet at Ben-Gurion International Airport yesterday. The plane will sell for $24 million to $28 million, depending on the choice of internal accessories.

The inaugural ceremony for the new model drew representatives of Gulfstream and Israel Aeronautics Industries management, top state officials, members of the business community, aviation authorities reps and those of U.S. subcontractors.

The two companies had announced their collaboration on development of the G250 at the annual conference of business jet manufacturers in October of 2008. But the global financial crisis hit the jet industry shortly thereafter, and sales plummeted. By November, IAI had announced that the number of business jets to be manufactured in 2009 would be cut from 36 to 18, and in March of this year, IAI announced that 200 employees would be laid off as part of reduced operations.

However, manufacturing continued despite floundering demand. IAI chairman Yair Shamir said the companies wanted to continue developing the aircraft. "We believe this will give us a big advantage over competitors who suspended development because of the crisis. The advantage will be not just in the quality of the craft, but also because we will be the first in the market when the market is ready."

Shamir said the craft provides employment for more than 1,000 workers in Israel, 750 at IAI and another 300 with subcontractors. The plane will go on sale in 2011.