Israel’s own “Air Force One” aircraft, which will serve both the prime minister and president on official trips abroad, successfully executed its first test flight on Sunday.
The Boeing 767-300ER airliner, which arrived here in the summer of 2016 from Australian carrier Qantas and has since been retrofitted by Israel Aerospace Industries, took off from and returned to Ben-Gurion Airport after a four-and-a-half-hour flight. All key systems operated successfully during the flight, IAI said.
The cost of the purchase and renovation of the plane is estimated to total NIS 600 million. Further test flights and additional checks will be carried out before the state-owned aircraft enters into service.
On Thursday, during a runway test ahead of Sunday’s flight, emergency rescue teams were called after smoke from the aircraft’s left wheel was identified. The incident was attributed to the lengthy period that the plane had spent on the ground. All systems were found to be operating as required during a second test, later on Thursday.
The aircraft, IAI said, contains sophisticated technological systems designed and assembled by the company to enable reliable service for decades to come. To date, Israel’s national carrier, El Al, has transported the country’s leaders and official delegations on foreign visits.
It is also equipped with sophisticated and encrypted communication systems, enabling confidential conversations with contacts in Israel or with international leaders. The aircraft, IAI said, is capable of flying non-stop to China and Japan in the East or the United States and Brazil in the West.
According to IAI, the aircraft “meets all the complex security and safety requirements as dictated by the nature of its mission.”