NBAA: Bombardier goes all in with Learjet 85

Bombardier re-affirmed on the eve of the NBAA convention that the Learjet 85 will enter service around the third quarter of next year, despite the fact that the aircraft has yet to make its maiden flight.

“We are still on track to fly before the end of the year and deliver next year,” Steven Ridolfi, president of Bombardier’s business aircraft division, tells Flightglobal. “I think right now the focus is [the] first flight.”

Ridolfi made his comments at Learjet’s facility in Wichita, Kansas, on 17 October, moments before the company unveiled its first Learjet 85 to the public.

The company towed that aircraft, which was painted white with a curving red stripe, outside and parked it on the tarmac for 30min for viewing by reporters and other guests.

Learjet’s production division recently completed building the aircraft and handed it over to Learjet’s flight test department, Ridolfi says.

The company is now finalizing flight test plans, but Ridolfi declined to provide a date when the aircraft will first take off.

He insists the company has fixed unspecified problems associated with manufacturing the aircraft’s all-composite airframe.

The airframe is made at a facility in Querétaro, Mexico, where the 6,000ft (1,830m) altitude requires Bombardier to use special curing techniques.
The problems caused a roughly six-month production delay, pushing entry into service until the third quarter of 2014.

“I think we are through that now,” Ridolfi said of the production problems. “We are anxiously going forward with out flight test program.”
The 85, launched in 2007, is a midsize, eight-passenger jet that will have a range of roughly 3,000nm (5,556km).

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