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.


Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion flightdeck provides 3 large LCD screens and will be configurable to HGS6000 heads-up display with SVS and EVS.

Key to Fusion is enhanced situational awareness by way of a very graphically oriented environment, a cursor control device (CCD) and an open architecture system which accept standard ARINC protocols to interface with anything Rockwell Collins, or anyone else, may invent in the future.

Standard with Fusion on the Learjet 85 will be SVS, electronic chart and manual capabilities, tactical weather datalinks and new multiscan radar.

Mahoney envisions future mandates for surface taxi management and this will be easily adaptable with Fusion as will enhanced vision system (EVS) and heads up display (HUD) capabilities as they become available.

Flight controls, systems and maintainability

While the Learjet 85 will be the world's first all-composite Part 25 certified business jet flight controls and systems continue in Learjet's tradition of simplicity and excellent handling characteristics.

This is not a fly-by-wire aircraft, flight controls are mechanically operated and Fowler flaps are electrically controlled and electromechanically actuated. This latest Learjet features 2 sets of hydraulically driven spoiler panels and an electrically driven aux pump supplying 3000 psi.

With its integrated Pro Line Fusion panel the Learjet 85 will offer PFD with SVS and 15-in MFD.

The fuel system has 2 wing tanks and 1 center fuselage tank with a single point refueling system. Ice protection is engine bleed air for wing leading edges and nacelle inlet lips. The electrical system will feature 3 AC variable frequency brushless starter/generators and electronic circuit breakers.

Pressurization and environmental system utilizes engine bleed air for a 6000-ft cabin at FL 490. An APU will be standard on the Learjet 85 however Bombardier has not yet released details on APU make or model.

Exceptional strength-to-weight ratio, reduced maintenance and extended service life are key characteristics of all-composite airframes. The Learjet 85's composite structure should ease maintenance as a result of a greatly reduced parts count and less vulnerability to corrosion or fatigue damage than equivalent metal structures.

While you've still got the same systems to maintain-generators and starters etc-Bombardier may be able to stretch airframe inspection intervals and inspections may be simpler.

Summary

The model 85 will be the largest and longest range Learjet while not sacrificing performance and handling characteristics that Learjet operators like so much.

I'm glad that they're calling this all-new airplane a Learjet as this is one of the best names in business aviation. It's a truly iconic name and there will be people who buy this airplane because it is a Learjet.

While the model 85 will have a price premium over the 60XR, 3000 nm range is important to the market. My only negative comment on the Learjet 60XR, when I flew it earlier this year, was that range seemed too short for its very comfortable cabin. With the model 85, Bombardier not only addresses the range issue but also creates an important new large-midsize market segment.

Learjet design, combined with Grob's composite technology experience, is a winning combination in my opinion. Grob is one of the world's largest and most experienced composite aircraft manufacturers and the're making a sizeable investment to prepare for the Learjet 85. Burkhart Grob, who founded Grob Aerospace in 1971 and produced the world's first all-composite glider, would, I'm sure, be proud of how far company capabilities have evolved.

In fact, low temperatures lay-up composite technology perfected by Grob on the SPn and now and destined for the Learjet 85, may open the door to many more all-composite Bombardier business aircraft in future.

Learjet 85 provides a significant step up in cabin width and height over the 60XR and fits in well with Bombardier's business aircraft portfolio.

There's no reason why a Challenger or Global Express business jet could not benefit from an all-composite structure. In fact, I'd better check my stock portfolio to make sure that I'm not too heavily invested in rivets or rivet machinery! I believe Bombardier has a real winner with the Learjet 85.

It gives the market what it's looking for, in terms of cabin comfort, range and performance while achieving an effective mix of new technology and existing, proven, systems.

Clay Lacy, founder of Clay Lacy Aviation at VNY (Van Nuys CA), is a highly experienced pilot who has been performing flightchecks and writing other articles for Pro Pilot since May 1997.

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