If you happen to be rich or famous, ask your pilot about the custom-made, executive Gulfstream jet that you own or travel on. Chances are it was made in Israel.
Top executives, socialites like Paris Hilton, Hollywood stars like John Travolta, and just the regular rich and famous seem to spend more time in the air than they do on the ground. Flying with the riffraff in economy and first class is obviously out of the question. For most VIPs, only a private jet will do.
Known for their thrust as they break speed records, and for their aesthetic and pampering interiors, Israeli-made Gulfstream jets are breaking records in the aviation industry.
During test runs, a made-in-Israel G150 aircraft established a city-pair speed record on a flight from Tel Aviv to Geneva. It started breaking records even before it went into service, the company reports.
Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) has been manufacturing Gulfstream jets in Israel for the past seven years, says Doron Suslik, the company’s president of communications. “We manufacture the planes, Gulfstream buys them and markets and sells them,” Suslik tells ISRAEL21c, adding that Israeli business tycoons routinely fly on the locally-built models.
With a manufacturing facility in Tel Aviv, IAI now provides two models of custom-made executive jets to discriminating customers, with a third in the offing.
The G150 and the G200 have already established their high-class reputations, with the in-development G250 sure to maintain the same standards.
Choosing Israel for quality, performance and pricing
An update of the G200, according to media reports the G250 is scheduled to enter service in 2011, with the first aircraft scheduled to fly by the end of this year.
A Gulfstream representative says that while the names on the customer lists can’t be divulged, the G150 is a favorite in the mid-size executive jet market. For its size, it gives the longest range at the fastest speed, while boasting one of the industry’s widest and most comfortable cabins – for the ultimate in relaxation and pampering.
Why Israel and why the IAI? “Gulfstream is one of the leading companies in the market of executive jets, and decided to go with IAI for… the basket of airplanes that they are manufacturing and offering to their clients,” Suslik tells ISRAEL21c.
“It’s the quality,” Suslik continues. “It’s also the performance, and I believe it’s the price and the systems. There are systems that we have which were developed by the Israel Defense Forces or IAI, and some subsystems are bought abroad.”
Fuselages are made in Israel, while wings are brought over from the US on massive cargo planes. Once a plane is assembled, an IAI test pilot flies it to Gulfstream in the US. Both the Federal Aviation Administration and the Israel Civil Aviation Authority authorize the planes even before they are in service.
Flying above the traffic and beyond the weather
With its power coming from two Honeywell 731-40AR engines, the G150 can reach speeds of up to Mach .85 and altitudes of 45,000 feet, far above commercial traffic and stormy weather. With four passengers it can fly up to 2,700 nautical miles, further than any other aircraft in its class, according to Gulfstream. That’s the equivalent distance of LA to New York or London to Moscow.
IAI production facilities have been operating for about 35 years and have turned out more than 800 planes. Several years ago General Dynamics, Gulfstream’s parent company, acquired the US-based Galaxy Aerospace account, and with it Galaxy’s Israeli business partner, IAI.
“Our Gulfstream team in Israel has done an excellent job managing the design and build of the first G150,” said Bryan Moss, president of Gulfstream, when the first jet was released a few years ago. “They’ve sacrificed time away from their families to ensure this project is on budget and on schedule.”
The plane was designed to meet the needs of specific customers who use their aircraft primarily to transport eight or fewer passengers between cities within a continent, explained Moss. And like all Gulfstream jets, the Israeli-made G150 is made to order -buyers can choose from a wide selection of fine leathers, upholstery fabrics, wood finishes and floor coverings.
Robert Baugniet, director of communications for Gulfstream, told ISRAEL21c that between 2003 and 2008, the Israeli company produced 235 “green” aircraft.
In this context, “green” doesn’t refer to the environment, but to aircraft that are equipped with all the necessary flight equipment, but whose interiors are not yet customized or fitted with passenger seats and fancy furnishings – or stewards asking if you’d like champagne and caviar.
Located in Ben Gurion International Airport outside of Tel Aviv, IAI designs, manufactures and assembles aeronautical parts and assemblies for delivery to major aerospace manufacturers around the world. The company currently provides the Israel Defense Forces and its foreign customers with high-quality technological solutions that meet a wide range of needs on the ground, in the sea, in the air, in space and in the field of homeland security.