Bombardier has selected Dubai as the venue for the airshow introduction of the Learjet NXT, an all-new business jet intended to fill the market gap between the company’s $13.3 million Learjet 60XR and $21 million Challenger 300.
The company has released little information about the airplane since its official launch on October 30. Bombardier has said only that the NXT will feature an eight-passenger cabin, 3,000-nm range, Mach 0.82 high-speed cruise capability and be “priced competitively.” Engine and avionics supplier selections won’t happen until next year, when the company reveals further details about the design. Even the name NXT has been described as merely “provisional.”
Most of the principal NXT development and production work will take place at Learjet’s facility in Wichita, including flight testing, final assembly, interior completions, aircraft delivery, contracting and sales. Models and artist renderings reveal a traditional Learjet shape for the NXT fuselage, but with oversized winglets and a large wing-to-fuselage belly fairing. The cabin will feature two rows of facing double-club seating and an aft lavatory in keeping with traditional Learjet interior layouts.
“This airplane represents a reinvigoration of the Learjet brand,” said Bob Horner, vice president of international sales for Bombardier. “It shows we are committed to the Learjet line, which next year will mark its 45th anniversary.”
Horner stressed that the introduction of the NXT continues Bombardier’s strategy of penetrating every segment of the business jet market from the Learjet 40 at the low end to the ultra-long-range Global Express on the other side. Billed as a midsize jet, the airplane will nevertheless feature a stand-up cabin slightly larger than that of the Learjet 60XR. “The NXT won’t replace the 60XR,” Horner said. “Rather it will complement the eight-passenger cabin concept that has been so successful for us.”
Bombardier quietly showed the NXT concept to potential customers and suppliers at the National Business Aviation Association Convention in the U.S. in late September, but the company opted not to make a splash at the show as it has done with other new models. Still, Bombardier walked away with 65 letters of intent (and accompanying paid deposits) from interested buyers who apparently weren’t dissuaded by the lack of information made available about the NXT.
A “public unveiling” of the new Learjet is scheduled for next October, but Bombardier has decided against releasing other program timelines.
Horner and Middle East regional vice president of sales Ichader Mattar posed for photographers in front of an NXT model at Bombardier’s stand (W601) here yesterday. The company is planning a customer event this evening at ExecuJet Aviation, its Middle East distributor. Interested buyers certainly will have plenty of questions for Bombardier officials, but the answers likely won’t be very revealing. The Middle East and Europe have become hot markets for business jets in the last few years, making the Dubai Airshow a perfect venue to formally introduce the NXT, Horner said. Whether buyers here are as eager to hand over deposit checks for an airplane steeped in such secrecy remains to be seen.