Bombardier (stand 7011) is pulling out all the stops to reassure customers and suppliers for its composite Learjet 85 midsize business jet that the programme is ontrack for first deliveries in 2013.Original fuselage supplier Grob Aerospace went bust last year.

"We have almost 40 vendors working on the programme. Grob was a vendor, and just like any vendor that has difficulty, you have to figure out ways to work around it," says Learjet vice-president and general manager David Coleal.

An agent used the question and answer session at the end of Bombardier's EBACE press conference on Monday to demand the return of a Nigerian customer's $250,000 deposit, citing concerns over the fuselage plan and the shifting of structural manufacturing to Queretaro in Mexico.

"I think people are putting too much into the Grob issue," he says. "Bombardier always had the lead design responsibility and we are the ultimate integrator of all the components.

"After the [Grob] bankruptcy we decided to take it all back internally. So we established our composites advisory council and established a relationship with [research institute] NIAR.

"Right now we have a structures design group up in Montreal with 200 folks. We have 200 folks in Wichita and over 50 employees in Queretaro that are working on the main factory side, so this entity is now working very well," says Coleal.

As part of preparations for Learjet 85 production, Bombardier has produced a composite Global Express nose section test article.

The manufacturer has abandoned Grob's wet lay technique for the fuselage and switched to a pre-preg concept.

"The team had to basically redesign the fuselage, wing and horizontal stabiliser from a structural standpoint," says Coleal.

Source: Flight Daily News