Business

Morgan Freeman to wing into UAE on jet bought from Emivest

Actor's purchase of SJ30 from UAE-based company cost him over $7 million

  • By Samia Badih, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 December 22, 2009
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: AP
  • Actor Morgan Freeman.

Dubai: American actor Morgan Freeman has bought a new private jet from the Emirates Investment and Development Company (Emivest), a private investment company in the UAE.

Freeman, who has a private pilot's licence, was to fly his new SJ30 from Los Angeles to the UAE, touching down in Dubai.

The aircraft is produced by Sino Swearingen Aircraft Corporation (SSAC), a US-based manufacturer and a subsidiary of Emivest.

The SJ30 has a reputation among business jets as "the world's fastest, longest-range and highest-flying light jet".

The aircraft can maintain sea level cabin pressure at 41,000 feet and hasn a top cruising altitude of 49,000 feet.

The official price tag for the SJ30 has not been released, but it is said that Freeman bought his plane for about $7 million (Dh25.7 million).

High demand

In 2007, the SJ30 flew from San Antonio, Texas, to Dubai for the Dubai air show in just over 16 hours.

Since it was established in 1997, Emivest has been headed by chairman Butti Saeed Al Gandi. In June 2008, it became the first company in the Middle East to acquire an 80 per cent interest in SSAC.

The acquisition of SSAC has driven Emivest to venture into the aviation and manufacturing sectors in the US market.

The acquisition has also given SSAC the opportunity to venture into the Middle East market, where demand for business jets is currently high.

Emivest says that it will work closely with partners such as Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) in Taiwan to develop new products that would meet market demands.

Press conference

A press conference, attended by Freeman and Al Gandi, will be held tomorrow at the Executive Flight Centre at the Dubai Airport Free Zone to announce the sale of the new SJ30 from Emivest to Freeman.

The award-winning actor, who'll be accompanied by his niece on the trip, will be in town for Christmas. He is expected to stay in the UAE until December 27.

Drawing on new power

The Sino Swearingen Aircraft Corporation (SSAC), the aircraft manufacturer famous for the SJ30 light business jets, was founded by aircraft designer Ed Swearingen.

Early work by the company included the development of prototype aircraft for other manufacturers; such as the Twin Comanche prototype developed for Piper Aircraft in 1962 and the development of several research helicopters for the Bell Helicopter Company, work which led to the Huey Cobra.

In 1973, Ed Swearingen formed a new company and went back to modifying aircraft, developing a new version of the Lockheed Jetstar on behalf of the manufacturer and Garrett.

In 2008, the Texas-based company became known as Emivest Aerospace, after Emivest acquired an 80 per cent stake in it.

Emivest Aerospace is headed by chairman Butti Saeed Al Gandi, a UAE national. In 2006, Swearingen was inducted into the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame for his contributions to the aviation industry in his home state.

Gulf News

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