In 1985, Israel Aircraft Industries introduced the midsize transcontinental Astra, a clean-sheet improvement over the Westwind. With a moderately swept low-wing design, the Astra was a faster model. Five years later, IAI announced the redesigned Astra SP. Its aerodynamic wing and new airframe design were credited with increasing the IFR range and allowing zero flap takeoffs.
In regards to performance, the Astra SP made leaps and bounds from the original. Its range increased from 2,755 nautical miles to 2,815 nm due largely to aerodynamic features. Additionally, the SP benefited from a 400 pound increase in its hot/high climb limit.
The Astra SP lends its performance capabilities to two AlliedSignal TFE 731-3C-200G turbofans. Each engine provides 3,700 lbs of thrust, very competitive in the class. The major inspection interval is 4,200 hours.
The Astra SP also has an upgraded digital avionics suite. It employs the Collins EFIS 86C 5-tube panel and flight director system, dual VHF 22 comms and VIR 32 navs, Collins APS 85 autopilot, dual ADF 60’s, dual DME 42’s, dual TDR 90 transponders and WXR 850A Color weather radar.
Design elements distinguish the Astra SP from other midsize jets. It is constructed almost entirely of conventional aluminum monocoque. Its rectangular fuselage is identifiable on the ground as well as in the air, keeping frontal nose area to a minimum while maintaining a roomy cabin. Its distinguished shape enables the SP to surpass competition.
Typical cabin configuration is club-and-a-half seating for six passengers. It is certified for up to nine. Because of its design modifications, the cabin is able to accommodate an aft, full-width lavatory and a forward galley. Measurements are 4.9 feet wide, 17.2 feet long and a near unheard of height in a midsize jet of 5.6 feet.
When aircraft manufacturers were concerned with building anything that could fly adequately, Israel Aircraft Industries made strategic improvements in power and design that set the bar in the midsize category. The Astra SP remains overall a great midsize business jet, offering range and speed in addition to ample passenger accommodations for its class.