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Sun, Apr 02, 2023

Israel Aerospace Industries B777-300ER Freighter Conversion Flies

Mazel Tov!

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)—Israel's principal aerospace concern and producer of aerial and astronautic systems for both military and civilian customers—announced on 24 March 2023 that it had successfully completed the first flight of a B777-300ER passenger airliner the company has converted to a freighter configuration at the behest of AerCap Holdings, the American-Irish aviation leasing company headquartered in Dublin, Ireland.

Upon completion of its type certification under the auspices of local civil aviation authorities, the converted 777-300ER, known as The Big Twin, will be the first twin engine aircraft of its type capable of carrying a one-hundred-ton cargo payload. The Big Twin program builds on expertise and experience gleaned over IAI’s 45-year history of successful large aircraft conversions, which includes the B767-200/300, B747-400, and B737-700/800.

In response to strong worldwide demand for cargo aircraft, IAI is establishing a number of global conversion facilities to complement its extant Israeli operations. In the last year, IAI’s Aviation Group has signed passenger-to-cargo conversion contracts worth hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars with leading aviation companies the likes of: AerCap, Emirates Cargo, Challenge Group, EVA Air, and CargoJet.

IAI Aviation Group general manager Shmuel Kuzi stated: “The successful first flight … is a world breakthrough in the field of wide-body aircraft passenger-to-cargo conversions. The advanced capabilities and efficient solutions which IAI offers its customers provide the solution having the best value available in the market.”

AerCap head of cargo Richard Greener remarked: “IAI’s Aviation Group has achieved a significant milestone. … We would like to thank all of IAI’s employees who made this inaugural flight happen. AerCap firmly believes that this conversion program is the most comprehensive and well-designed wide-body freighter to meet the future requirements for the global air cargo market.”

IAI’s Aviation Group is a world-leading conversion provider for many aircraft types. The group deals with a wide variety of military and civilian manned aircraft models; passenger- to-cargo conversion; Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) operations; business jets; aerostructures and assemblies; aircraft upgrades; and many additional aerospace disciplines. IAI’s customers include Amazon, FedEx, and DHL.

Since its 1953 founding, Israel Aerospace Industries has provided advanced technology solutions—including satellites, missiles, weapon-systems, munitions, unmanned and robotic systems, radars, and Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR)—to worldwide government and commercial customers. The company specializes in the development and manufacture of advanced, state-of-the-art systems for air, space, sea, land, cyber, and homeland security. IAI overhauls and maintains commercial aircraft and converts passenger aircraft to refueling and cargo configurations.

In 1969, IAI acquired North American Rockwell's Jet Commander series of business aircraft, which became the basis for IAI’s famously long-legged Westwind line. Stretching the Westwind II’s fuselage and fitting it with a new swept-wing design yielded the Astra, the prototype of which flew in March 1984. FAA type certification of the Astra and customer deliveries followed in 1985 and 1986 respectively.



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