Learjet 85 final assembly plant remains idle as fuselage checks continue

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Bombardier has set up a final assembly line for the Learjet 85, but it remains idle while the first complete pressure fuselage continues validation testing, the airframer says in a second quarter financial update.

Bombardier's second quarterly earnings report includes a detailed update on the Learjet 85 programme, which features a single-piece 9.75m-long (32ft) composite pressure fuselage including the nose and aft fuselage.

The final assembly plant in Wichita, Kansas, was expected to activate no later than July. The facility "is ready" to start operations, Bombardier's report says.

However, the first fuselage assembly remains at Bombardier's factory in Querétaro, Mexico, as validation tests continue. The first wing internal structure is complete in Querétaro, and is being integrated with the wing plank. The Querétaro facility has received wing spars and skins to begin assembly of a second wing, which will be used on the aircraft devoted to static testing.

The Learjet 85 is scheduled to enter service in 2013, along with the Bombardier CS100 CSeries and Learjet 70/75.

The company, meanwhile, has temporarily idled production of the Learjet 60XR, citing lack of demand.

"We will understand when to restart this production given the level of inventory of aircraft, given the plan we have in production and we monitor that very closely," says Pierre Beaudoin, chief executive of Bombardier. "We thought it was wise at this point to take a pause. It's a pause and we'll follow the market very closely."

Bombardier delivered 46 business jets in the second quarter, 12 more than in the same period last year. The delays for the introduction of the Global jet series with Rockwell Collins Vision flight decks mean Bombardier has delivered only 74 business aircraft to date this year.

Beaudoin says output will catch up in the second half to meet the company's guidance of 160 business jet deliveries in 2012.