Bombardier took the wraps off its latest Learjets today. The Canadian manufacturer has relaunched its entry-level Learjets as the Learjet 70 and 75, with a new flight deck, cabin management system (CMS) and interior, as well as an upgraded Honeywell engine offering extended range.
Although the new jets share their airframes with their Learjet 40 and 45 predecessors, the similarities stop there, says Ralph Acs, vice-president and general manager, Learjet. "It's all about newness. We have preserved the look and feel of our existing Learjets, but with a lot of features that you will find in our Learjet 85," he says.
Bombardier has already been secretly testing the pair at Learjet's Wichita facility. The current 40 and 45 range will cease production in 2013. The Learjet 75 will enter service in the first half of next year, while the 70 will following about six months later.
The new aircraft's touch-screen Vision flight deck - which uses Garmin avionics - is similar to that on the Global 5000 and 6000, while the Lufthansa Technik-designed CMS includes 7in (178mm) pop-up touchscreen monitors and "shares the same DNA" as the top-of-the-range Learjet 85 in development. Instead of speakers, passengers experience, surround-sound, says Acs. "The whole cabin wall is a speaker. It's like sitting in a speaker," he says.
An improved TFE731-40BR powerplant delivers an additional 10% thrust and extends range from "just over 1,900nm [3,515km] to cross the 2,000nm mark" says Acs. "It means we can get in and out of 5,000ft [1,524m] runways comfortably and it really opens up more city pairs, especially out of hot and high locations."
Test aircraft three to five will fly in the next six months, with the fifth aircraft the first "real 75" - with cabin, CMS, engine and avionics.
Acs says the new aircraft will retain the qualities of the iconic brand. "When you talk about Learjet, the heritage that comes across is phenomenal. In China, Australia, wherever you are, they know what you are talking about. Pilots love the look and feel of a Learjet, and especially its performance."
Production of Learjet's other aircraft, the 60XR, will continue for the time being.