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IAI 1124 / 1124A Westwind 1/2 - Shachaf (Gull)

Model 1121 Jet Commander

In 1961 the Aero Commander Bethany division of Rockwell Standard Corporation started development of a new high-speed executive transport, the Jet Commander 1121. One of the earliest business jets -- or "bizjets" -- the Aero Commander 1121 Jet Commander was a cantilever mid-wing monoplane configuration, with a fail-safe pressurized fuselage, retractable tricycle landing gear, a convectional tail unit with swept surfaces. The two 2,850 lb thrust General Electric turbo-jet engines were mounted on each side of the aft fuselage, providing a top speed of 845 kmh and a range of 2965 km. The 19 ft long cabin provided service for a pilot and up to eight passengers in a well-equipped and comfortable interior.

The Model 1121 Jet Commander, was of broadly conventional business jet arrangement, with two engines mounted in nacelles carried on the rear fuselage. However the wings were mounted halfway up the fuselage instead of the typical low-wing arrangement of aircraft in this class. The Jet Commander can be identified by its low slung fuselage and rear mounted engines similar to its turboprop counterpart, the Rockwell Commander 690. The Jet Commander used a fuselage similar to the Pressurized Grand Commander (though with smaller windows, to allow for the higher pressurization required at high-flying jet altitudes), mated to completely-different, shorter wings (projecting straight out from the mid-section of the fuselage) and twin turbojet engines (mounted in pods on each side of the tailcone).

The prototype first flew on 27 July 1963, and the first delivery was made on 11 January 1965. With the LearJet, Jet Commander, Sabreliner, and JetStar on the market, the Jet Commander was business jet that attracted the most orders - 60 by early 1964. The Aero Commander's Jet Commander sold for $595,000, cruised at 440 m.p.h. and carried as many as seven passengers. The Jet Commander's chief advantage: straight wings that enable it to land and take off on short runways.

By 1965, Aero Design and Engineering Company became the Aero Commander Division of the much larger Rockwell-Standard Corp., later known as Rockwell International. In 1967 Rockwell-Standard acquired North American Aviation. As North American was already building the Sabreliner, the Jet Commander line had to be sold off because of antitrust laws.

Around that time the government of Israel had begun creating its own aviation industry, with Israel Aircraft Industries, Ltd. (IAI). IAI saw an opportunity in the 1121 design. In 1968, IAI acquired the rights to manufacture the Jet Commander executive aircraft from the US company Rockwell, along with all the tooling and parts, and 49 aircraft still not completed, and moved production to Israel. In 1969, IAI re-started production of the plane, renaming it the 1121 Commodore Jet. IAI completed production of the 1121 Commodore Jets, with a total US/Israeli production of 150 aircraft.

1123 Westwind / 1124 Westwind

In 1970, adding tip tanks for greater range, IAI modified the Jet Commander into the popular 1123 Westwind, with a stretched fuselage allowing seating for 10 passengers. The JC has only 3 passenger windows and no wingtip tanks which identify it from the the Westwind. The Westwind first flew in September 1970. Later versions included the popular 1124 Westwind. In 1980 deliveries of the Model 1124A commenced; modifications included a new wing centre-section and the additional winglets to the tips. The revamped aircraft was called the Westwind II, replacing the original design in production. IAI built its last Westwind in 1987, after a total of 442 Jet Commanders and Westwinds had been built, switching production to the Astra.

The IAI 1124 Sea Scan is an American-designed Israeli medium/long-range maritime patrol aircraft that entered service in 1976. The IAI 1124 is powered by two Garrett TFE731-3-1G turbofans providing a top speed of 872 kmh and a range of 4633 km at high altitude and 2555 km at low altitude. The IAI 1124 carries a flight crew of two and a two or three man mission crew in the cabin. Generally unarmed, the IAI 1124 is fitted with two hard points, one each side of the fuselage which can be used for carrying disposable stores. It is very similar to the Jet Commander although the Westwind has additional wingtip fuel tanks, larger engines and an extended fuselage with 5 rather than 3 passenger windows.

The IAI 1124A Westwind II can be recognised by the wingtip winglets. This latest version incorporates a supercritical wing section as well. The Westwind II has better range than the Westwind I. The flight performances were improved in aircraft, was established the more economical engine Garrett Tfe731-1100g, which made it possible to increase flying range. The first IAI-1124 aircraft was placed during May 1980. The production of the aircraft was ended in 1987 after delivery to the customers of 244 versions of the aircraft.

1125 Astra / Galaxy

In the mid-1980's, a radical transformation produced the 1125 Astra, which kept only the 1124's original tail and engine nacelles, and switched to a new, low-mounted, swept wing, supporting a longer, more-tubular fueselage (although the 1121 lineage is still visible). The result was a bigger cabin -- putting the plane in a better position to compete with the stand-up room of bigger jets.

In 1997, IAI spun off the Jet Commander line to a new company which aviation executive Brian Barents (later president of Learjet) helped them form in partnership with the Pritzker family (who had helped develop Hyatt Hotels and Braniff Airways). The result was Galaxy Aerospace, which was formed around the newly transferred design. The company began design work on the 1126 Galaxy -- a new design, emulating the style of the Astra in an enlarged, longer-range version. The design, owned for a few years by Galaxy Aerospace, Ltd., was acquired by General Dynamics, which renamed the Astra as the G-100, and the Galaxy as the G-200.




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