Bombardier has hinted at plans to launch a scaled-down version of the all-composite Learjet 85.
The Learjet 85 was designed to define a new category between the traditional ranges for the midsize and super-midsize segments. However, it is now clear Bombardier has no intention of overlooking the core of the midsize category with its latest and most significant new product in decades.
"I think there is an opportunity between the 75 and 85," says Ralph Acs, vice-president and general manager of Learjet.
The market appears to fall within the super-light segment now occupied by the Learjet 45XR, which is being replaced by the revamped Learjet 75 model in 2013.
Bombardier has hinted at plans to launch a scaled-down version of the all-composite Learjet 85
"Do you invest to this extent on the 85 and just make it a point design?" Acs asks rhetorically. "Our entire notion all along has been that you can come up with a platform and then you spin that into other things. So that is the homework we are doing."
Asked if the new model could be branded the Learjet 80, Acs jokes in deadpan fashion: "Not necessarily. It could be the 81."
At the same time, Bombardier is grappling with the future of the Learjet 60XR, a model with an emotional resonance within the company as the last aircraft completely designed and built in Wichita. The Learjet 85 is assembled in Wichita but most of the structures are built in Mexico or Ireland.
Bombardier placed future production of the Learjet 60XR in pause mode earlier in September because of declining sales. Assembly work is continuing on the 60XRs already in the production flow, but no new work is being commissioned on the supply chain.
"The idea is to put [the 60XR] on pause, think about what pause means, and we'll go through a fixed period of time, then you'll see where we end up," Acs says.