Bombardier flew the first production Learjet 40 light jet to NBAA just five days after its first flight and less than two weeks after the prototype's first flight. It was one of several business-jet debuts at the show.

Cessna brought the first production Citation Sovereign mid-size jet and Raytheon the third super mid-size Hawker Horizon. Gulfstream showed the first production GV-SP, renamed the G550, while Bombardier also flew in the third super mid-size Continental, making its debut as the rebranded Challenger 300. Sino Swearingen Aircraft brought the first SJ30-2 light jet.

The Learjet 40 prototype, a "deplugged" Learjet 45, flew on 31 August, followed on 5 September by the first production aircraft. Canadian and US certification of the $6.92 million aircraft is planned for the first quarter of 2004.

Certification of the Challenger 300 has slipped to the first quarter of next year, says business aircraft president Peter Edwards, with first deliveries to Bombardier's FlexJet fractional programme in the third quarter and to retail customers in the first quarter of 2004. Four flight-test aircraft, two with interiors, have exceeded 925h.

The first production Sovereign, displayed with interior, and the prototype first flown in February, have logged about 250h. A third aircraft will join the test programme later this year, and the programme is on track for certification in the fourth quarter of 2003, says senior product director Brad Thress. "Encouraging" flight test figures include a 444kt cruise speed, 5,200km (2,820nm) range and 1,125m (3,690ft) take-off distance.

The Horizon is on target for the revised certification date of late next year, and performance is exceeding expectations, says Hawker division president Brad Hatt. After 200h flight testing, climb rate is faster, stall speed slower and take-off and landing distances shorter than expected. Fuel capacity, take-off weight and engine thrust have been increased. Range is now an intercontinental 6,290km at Mach 0.75 with four passengers.

Source: Flight International