Bombardier confirms new Learjet 85 flight delay

Bombardier will miss a schedule target to begin the flight testing phase of the Learjet 85 programme by the end of the year.

The midsize business jet will now fly in “the coming weeks”, Bombardier says. The company’s application for the flight test permit will be submitted “shortly” the US Federal Aviation Administration, the company adds.

Bombardier using the same “coming weeks” terminology as the CSeries first flight slipped months behind schedule from last December to 16 September.

The Learjet 85 had been targeted for a first flight early in 2013, but in February Bombardier revealed a nine-month delay to the schedule.

The problem in February was traced to manufacturing the all-composite fuselage at a new factory in Queretaro, Mexico.

As of October 2013, Bombardier executives insisted the composite material problems had been solved and first flight would be completed by the end of the year.

A seemingly assembled Learjet 85 was towed out of the Learjet hangar in Wichita during an October press event. In November, Bombardier reported in financial documents that the first aircraft had completed 99% of safety of flight testing. Still, progress appeared to slow on the Learjet 85 programme through December.

“We made significant progress towards first flight,” Bombardier says. “We completed [auxiliary power unit], engine runs and low speed testing.”

The Learjet 85 is scheduled to enter the market in the third quarter of 2014 and fill the gap currently occupied by the Learjet 60.

In a separate development, Bombardier completed certification of the Learjet 70 light jet on 12 December. It will now join the super-light Learjet 75 in service. Both models include engine, cabin and cockpit upgrades to the same fuselage of the Learjet 40/45 series.

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