IAI has carried out the first test flight of the aircraft expected to serve the national leaders of Israel in the coming decades.
The Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, which arrived in Israel in 2016 from Australian carrier Qantas and has been converted by IAI, took off from Ben-Gurion Airport for a short flight Sunday morning.
The “Israeli Airforce One” carries state-of-the-art systems designed, manufactured, and installed by IAI in order to adapt the aircraft to a “national leader” configuration. This model can fly non-stop, with no need for interim landings, all the way to China and Japan in the east and all the way to the United States or Brazil in the west.
The cutting-edge encrypted communication systems it carries provide uninterrupted, secure, and encrypted communication between the national leaders on board and the State of Israel or other states. Additionally, the aircraft complies with all of the complex security and safety requirements dictated by the nature of its mission.
IAI is one of a handful of companies capable of designing, developing, and converting aircraft. It offers these services through its Aviation Group, established earlier this year in the context of the company’s new strategy.
“The configuration and technology of this aircraft reflect the unique technological capabilities of the specialists and employees of IAI's Aviation Group,” IAI officials explain. “As part of the Group’s business line, they convert old passenger aircraft into different complex configurations such as refueling tankers, surveillance and cargo aircraft.”
IAI has recently gained a significant foothold in the field of aircraft conversion. Last week, IAI reported a significant deal for its Aviation Group, on the scope of hundreds of millions of US dollars. The company has signed an agreement with General Electric subsidiary GECAS for converting passenger aircraft to cargo aircraft. GECAS is one of the world’s largest aircraft leasing companies, serving some 250 clients in more than 75 countries worldwide.
In the context of the joint program, Big Twin, IAI will convert wide-body, twin-engine Boeing ER777-300 aircraft, with the first converted aircraft scheduled to be delivered to GECAS in 2022. The agreement calls for 15 converted aircraft to be delivered to GECAS, with an option for 15 additional aircraft to be converted later on.