BOMBARDIER PLANS to fly the first Learjet 45 business-jet on 22 September.

The new date represents a substantial delay, but Learjet president Brian Barents says that a fifth aircraft will be added to the certification flight-test programme in order to meet the commitment to deliver the first eight aircraft by January 1997 (Flight International, 15-22 February).

The maiden flight has been delayed by the additional work required to install flight-test instrumentation in the first aircraft, which has been built to production standards, Barents says. Assembly of the second aircraft is already well advanced at Wichita.

The fuselage and wing of the third aircraft, have been delivered by Bombardier Companies, Shorts and de Havilland respectively. The second and third aircraft will be flown in late December/early January, Barents says.

Learjet 45 production has been sold out up to 1999, he says, despite an increase in its production rate to 24 in 1996, 36 in 1997 and 48 in 1998.

"Sales are well ahead of where we planned," says Barents.

Source: Flight International