Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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Bombardier’s newest jet flying off shelves


June 22, 2010
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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Despite a tough market that has seen an abundance of jet order cancellations and deferrals, Bombardier’s new business jet is flying off the shelves, so to speak.

Sixty of the company’s new all-composite Learjet 85, set for delivery starting in 2013, have been ordered, and the company expects to delilver 450 of the planes over 10 years.

"In the last year with the economic global issues we haven’t lost a sale, so the confidence is there," Ralph Acs, vice-president of Learjet 85, told the Canadian Press.

Acs says orders for new aircraft come in waves and demand should pick up closer to its first flight, perhaps in a year or two, and once it is in service.

Launched in 2007, the US$18.5 million, 10-seat aircraft fits between the Learjet 60 and Challenger 300. It has the speed, range, styling and fuel efficiency that customers have said they wanted in a new mid-size business jet.

The cockpit has many of the same features of larger planes and its composite design allows for a cabin large enough that passengers don’t have to crouch down the aisle.

Structural parts will be made in Mexico and the plane will be assembled in Wichita, Kansas. But, the heart of the design was developed in Montreal, where a team of 1,500 Bombardier employees worked on the plane, its composite cousin CSeries and the CRJ1000, which is set for delivery later this fiscal year.

The industry has faced a tough year but there are signs of a slow recovery. Passenger traffic is increasing along with airline profits.

Used business aircraft inventories are down, but remain high. Corporate aviation information provider Jetnet says the percentage of used business jets for sale decreased to 15.5 percent in April from a high of 17.7 per cent in July 2009.

Business jet use was up 7.9 percent in May compared to a year ago. All segments improved, with mid-size cabin aircraft leading the way up 13.6 percent.