LEARJET IS considering adding a fifth aircraft to the Learjet 45 flight-test programme, to ensure that it meets the December 1996 deadline for certification of the new business jet.

The manufacturer has promised to deliver eight aircraft to customers by the end of parent company Bombardier's 1996 financial year in January 1997, says vice-president for programme management, Andre Brais.

The company admits that assembly of the first aircraft is behind schedule, with the first flight planned for the second quarter, "...but there is flexibility to catch up during flight test", says Brais, particularly if a fifth Learjet 45 is added to the programme.

The manufacturer added aircraft to the Lear 60 certification-test programme to overcome delays and meet its pledge to deliver the first customer aircraft by the end of Bombardier's 1992 financial year.

Plans are to use the first four production Learjet 45s for aerodynamic, mechanical-systems, avionics and function-and-reliability flight testing. There is no prototype, Brais says. A Learjet 35 will be used to flight-test the aircraft's AlliedSignal TFE731-20 turbofan, beginning in February.

The company says that it has orders for more than 50 Learjet 45s, with roughly the first two year's production of the new business-jet already sold out.

Source: Flight International