PROGRAM UPDATE

Bombardier Learjet 85: $20 mil, Mach .82, 3000 nm, FL490, 8–10 seats

Learjet’s largest and longest-range model will be world’s first all-composite Part 25 certified bizjet.


Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307B will provide 6100 pounds thrust with FADEC and Engine Diagnostic System (EDS). Low noise level will be 23 dB below Stage III with Nox emissions 30% lower than new ICAO standards.

Final assembly, interior completions, flight tests, paint and customer delivery will be accomplished in Wichita KS. To power the Learjet 85 Bombardier has selected Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307Bs with 6100 lbs of thrust per side flat rated to 86° F.

The PW307Bs will feature full authority digital engine control (FADEC) with engine diagnostic system (EDS). Noise level will be 23 dB below Stage III with nitrous oxide emission 30% lower than new ICAO standards. PW307Bs will be on condition engines, explains Nolen, however operators will have the option of a hard 7200-hr TBO if they choose. Power-to-weight ratio of the Learjet 85, at 1:2.747, will be close to my very agile Learjet 24.

This will give operators all the power they’re ever going to need! Learjet 85 performance targets include 4800 ft takeoff distance (MTOW, SL, ISA), 2700 ft landing distance (MTOW, SL, ISA) and time to climb to FL 410 (MTOW, SL, ISA) under 18 min. Max cruise altitude is targeted at 49,000 ft with Mach 0.82 high-speed cruise and Mach 0.78 long-range cruise. Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion, it was announced during EBACE, has been selected for the Learjet 85’s integrated avionics suite.

This is the second application of Pro Line Fusion in a Bombardier business aircraft. The top-of-the-line avionics suite was first launched as a key component of Bombardier’s Global Vision flightdeck in Sep 2007 and is now available the Global Express XRS and the Global 5000. Learjet 85 Pro Line Fusion configuration features three 15-inch diagonal LCD displays, synthetic vision system (SVS) and paperless charts, airport diagrams and manuals together with latest generation navigation and communications technology.

Pro Line Fusion will also be aboard the Cessna Citation Columbus and the newly announced Embraer Legacy 450 and 500. The objective with Rockwell Collins’ Fusion primary flight displays (PFD) and multifunction display (MFD) is enhanced situational awareness and reduced pilot workload.

Composite considerations

Bombardier VP & General Mgr Learjet David Coleal explained, during EBACE, that it was decided, right at the beginning, that the Learjet 85—fuselage, wings and empennage—needed to be all-composite.

Learjet 85 makes use of composites to minimize drag, enhance aerodynamics, maximize cabin volume and reduce parts count. This low-pressure, low-temperature composite technology, perfected by Grob over the past 37 years, is easily field repairable.

While Coleal admits that there can be risks in any new aircraft certification program, composite technology is well known today, FAA is familiar with it and suppliers have developed expertise in integrating components with composite structures. Composite benefits for the Learjet 85, explained Coleal, include less labor, greatly reduced parts count, improved aerodynamics and minimized drag due to better fabrication of fuselage curvature and maximum cabin volume as a result of a thinner wall structure.

The Learjet 85 fuselage will be built in less than 7 days, quicker than an aluminum structure. More and more service centers in the field now have composite repair experience. The Learjet 85 will be built with a low temperature composite technique so field reparability will be straightforward. Grob has vast experience, and over 7 million hours of flight time, with low temperature composites.

Its hand lay-up process is cured at relatively low temperatures of 60–80° F without need for autoclaves. Considering that Boeing is using all-composites on the 787 I see no reason why Bombardier would not consider building future-generation Global Express and Challenger airframes with composites.

Ecofriendly and low operating cost

Environmental friendliness, carbon footprints and fuel burn have become more important considerations for business aircraft buyers these days. Composite construction is a green and cleaner solution in that it proves more environmentally friendly in the aircraft construction process. Grob Aerospace’s low temperature composite curing process is inherently energy efficient and does not require high-temperature autoclaves for curing.

Learjet 85 ramp presence is assured with wingspan almost 18 ft greater than the model 60XR, a 25° sweep 400 sq ft wing and new generation winglets. Additionally, the model 85 is significantly longer and higher than the 60XR.

This amounts to a 25% reduction in primary energy consumption for production of the Grob SPn airframe and, compared to an all-aluminum airframe energy needed to produce the same airframe, a 25–38% reduction in related CO2 emissions.

According to Grob Aerospace CEO Niall Olver only 5 kg of raw materials are required to produce 1 kg of the final product for the SPn vs 33 kg to produce 1 kg with an aluminum aircraft. In the case of the Grob SPn fuel burn savings are 35%, says Olver, over a comparable cabin sized all-aluminum aircraft. The manufacturing process is also much quieter.

I visited the Grob production facility in Switzerland and it was so quiet in there—no rivets or hammering—that it was almost eerie! Grob’s SPn, the world’s only existing all-composite business jet, has turned out to be particularly fuel-efficient. With max ramp weight of 14,000 lbs it burns fuel more efficiently, and has a better specific range, than a comparably weighted all-aluminum business jet. On a typical trip of 600 nm the SPn achieves 35% fuel burn savings than comparable cabin sized all-aluminum aircraft. This sort of technology will obviously bode well for the Learjet 85 program.

I’ve observed a trend, over the past year or so among certain segments of the charter and traditional flight department market, of moving down to supermidsize and midsize aircraft to save on fuel and operating costs.

I believe more and more owners are considering smaller aircraft as they’re often more than adequate for transcontinental flights. You’ll save about $20,000 flying round trip VNY (Van Nuys CA)–TEB (Teterboro NJ) chartering a Challenger 300 vs a Gulfstream IV. The Learjet 85 creates a new class of even more affordable transcontinental-capable midsize aircraft.

With a comfortable cabin, low fuel burn and low DOCs, I expect to see attractive emerging markets. In fact, I’d love to have a few managed Learjet 85s available for charter at Clay Lacy Aviation!

Front office technology

Learjet approached Rockwell Collins, as a prospective supplier, about 2 years ago.

“Bombardier came to us with a concept for an aircraft that was radically different from anything they’d done before and, at that point, we were well down the path with Global Vision,” says Rockwell Collins Senior Dir Business and Regional Systems Colin Mahoney. “Core features and benefits of Rockwell Collins Fusion will reside in the Learjet 85 as they do in the Global Express.”

Due to flightdeck real estate constraints the Learjet 85 will have three 15-inch displays but you’ll be able to display a lot more on 3 large 15-inch screens than you can on 4 smaller Learjet 60XR Pro Line 21 displays.

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