JERUSALEM (Sep. 14)
The Israel Aircraft Industry, Ltd., one of Israel’s largest industrial concerns, confirmed last night it had signed a contract with the Rockwell-Standard Corporation, an American producer, for complete production rights to a twin-engined commercial jetliner in a $25,000,000 transaction. The aircraft is called the Jet Commander.
Under the agreement, the Israeli firm is acquiring inventory, planes in production, tooling units and related production facilities. The planes are currently being manufactured at the Bethany, Oklahoma plant of Aero Commander, a Rockwell-Standard subsidiary.
Israel Aircraft Industry, which has an aircraft plant at Lod airport and seven other factories in Israel, will integrate its production of the seven-passenger executive aircraft with the phasing out of production in Bethany and hopes to deliver the jets off its Lod lines within two years. The Israeli company, which has 5,000 employees, now produces the Fouga Magister jet training plane and parts for commercial aircraft used in the United States.
The Israeli firm is instituting a product improvement program in its scheduling of production of the twin-engined jet and expects that it will produce an improved version for sales in western markets.
It was also learned that the Israeli firm is now developing a prototype for the first STOL (short takeoff and landing) plane in Israel, tentatively named the “Arava,” which will carry 22 passengers. Aviation experts indicate there is a huge worldwide market for such planes for commercial traffic.
The Rockwell-Standard Manufacturing Company sold its Jet Commander business because the Justice Department had blocked a merger of the company with North American Aviation Inc., on grounds that both firms produce executive jet planes. Stockholders of the two American firms approved the proposed merger last June. The sale to Israel apparently removed the last obstacle to the merger. The Jet Commander sells for $595,000 but there was no information on what price tag the Israel firm would place on the plane.