Forty years since the launch of the legendary Learjet, the latest in a long line of luxury aircraft has made its Middle East debut.

Bombardier yesterday unveiled the Learjet 45XR, an improved version of the Learjet 45 super-light business jet. The new version features a redesigned interior with 6in (150mm) more legroom, 2in increased seat width and more galley storage.

The aircraft is particularly suited to hot and high conditions, says Mike Fahey, regional vice-president, sales Middle East and Africa, Business Aircraft: "With shorter takeoff distances, enhanced payload, more range, faster time to climb and a cruise speed that is fastest in its class, it promises to offer unprecedented levels of comfort and value to Middle East operators flying into Europe, Africa or Asia."

The aircraft's increased range means it can fly non-stop from Dubai to Colombo, Nairobi or Moscow with eight passengers.

Bombardier is building on its sales success in the region over recent years and building a new maintenance centre at Dubai International Airport.

Having delivered 33 business jets into the Middle East in the past five years – and expected to announce further sales at the show – it has heeded the call from its customers for support services.

In a joint venture with ExecuJet Middle East, the Canadian airframer is building a 2,600m2 (28,000ft2) support facility due for completion in second quarter 2004. The centre will be capable of accommodating two Global Express and two Challenger aircraft simultaneously.

At a groundbreaking ceremony on the eve of the show, Fahey stressed the importance of Dubai to the regional growth strategy.

Source: Flight Daily News