Bombardier dismisses reports that Learjet is on the block

 - October 3, 2007, 11:31 AM

During a recent press conference to report quarterly results, Bombardier Aerospace president and CEO Pierre Beaudoin dismissed as untrue persistent industry speculation that the Learjet line is on the block or that Learjet assembly work and the role of the Wichita flight-test center would be moved from Wichita to Montreal. The Tucson facility will become a dedicated service center for Bombardier’s business and regional jets.

In response to a query by AIN, Beaudoin said, “It is our intention to continue to expand the Learjet business,” adding that the company’s ongoing consolidation announced last year to focus Learjet work in Wichita and “widebody” business jet work in Montreal “is starting to pay dividends.”

In October, Bombardier announced that during the next 12 to 15 months, all Learjet manufacturing, completions and deliveries will be consolidated in Wichita, and all Challenger work will be relocated to Montreal. Specifically, Learjet 40, 45 and 60 completions will be moved from Tucson to Wichita, where the airplanes are currently assembled. Completions of Challengers, also done in Tucson, will move to Montreal, where Challengers are built. In addition, assembly of the new Challenger 300 will move from Wichita to Montreal.

At the NBAA Convention in Las Vegas later this month, Bombardier plans to make an “important [Learjet] product announcement.”

“I think we have a good line of products with the Learjet. Now that the [Wichita] management team is focused strictly on Learjet we are already seeing good progress,” Beaudoin said. “In fact, I’m quite excited about the ability that we will have to gain market share with this strong product line and with the introduction of the Learjet 40.”

The company also claimed that changes to signage, letterhead and business cards in Wichita are nothing more than a logo change in which the Learjet name is being made more prominent as part of Bombardier’s larger effort to emphasize the Learjet name in the marketplace.

Bombardier reported delivering 29 business jets in the company’s second quarter– May 1 through July 31–following 24 deliveries in the first period, for a total of 53 shipments in the first half of the current year, compared with 35 deliveries in the
first six months of last year. Firm orders are picking up, with a year-to-date contracts covering 60 aircraft, versus 24 in the same period last year.