Bombardier has moved closer to a long-delayed first flight of the all-composite Learjet 85 business jet, obtaining a flight test permit from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the first flight test vehicle.

The milestone event had been delayed from the second quarter to the fourth quarter of 2013, then was postponed further by Bombardier without explanation.

The company still must finalise the aircraft configuration and perform high-speed taxi tests before the first flight.

Bombardier’s announcement claimed that engine run testing had been completed on FTV-1, but it also noted that further “engine runs” were still necessary before first flight. The Learjet 85 is powered with the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307B engine.

“We look very much forward to showcasing the Learjet 85 jet, the biggest Learjet aircraft ever, during its maiden flight,” says Bombardier business aircraft vice-president and general manager Ralph Acs.

The aircraft features an all-composite fuselage and wing. The latter section is fabricated in panels in Belfast, UK, and shipped to Queretaro, Mexico for assembly. The Queretaro factory also fabricates the composite fuselage sections and ships structures to Wichita, Kansas for final assembly.

Bombardier executives have described the composite design as a primary reason for the delays so far.

The aircraft is designed with a high-speed cruise of Mach 0.82 and a range of 3,000nm, a competitive advantage in a class that normally features 2,000-2,500nm range.

It is one of three major development projects underway within Bombardier, including the CSeries family and the Global 7000/8000 business jets.

But it is also shares critical technologies with both of those programmes. The Belfast division of Bombardier produces the composite wing for the Learjet 85 and the CSeries family. The Queretaro factory will build the composite fuselage for the Global 7000/8000 business jets.