Made in Mexico? ‘Not for Me,’ Says Learjet 85 Buyer

 - June 4, 2009, 7:17 AM

The holder of a deposit on a Learjet 85 has asked Bombardier Aerospace for a refund due to the manufacturer’s plan to build the new jet’s composite airframe at its factory in Querétaro, Mexico.

The Barbedos Group, which placed a $250,000 deposit on a Learjet 85 last May, claims that “Learjet’s moving of advanced composite production from Germany to Mexico constitutes a material change of the contract. There is fear that value and quality may be diminished.”

Bombardier had contracted with Germany’s Grob Aerospace to help design and manufacture the Learjet 85 preproduction prototypes; however, Bombardier never said that Grob would manufacture production Learjet 85s. The Barbedos Group is based in Nigeria, where its subsidiary Sky Limit Jet & Charter Services is based.

“This not about preserving cash in a tight economy,” said the group’s agent Stephen Coonan. “The Barbedos Group already has three new business jets, all of which have been paid for in cash. It is about the questionable value and quality of the Learjet 85 upon final completion.”

Bombardier manufactures structural aircraft components at its own factories around the world and had always planned to manufacture the Learjet 85 itself. With Grob insolvent, Bombardier has partnered with the National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University to help with material and structural testing and certification of the Learjet 85. Bombardier’s Querétaro factory will build the Learjet 85’s all-composite airframe, and these components will be shipped to the Learjet factory in Wichita, Kansas, for final assembly.

A number of aerospace OEMs manufacture products in Mexico, including General Electric, GKN Aerospace, Honeywell, Rolls-Royce, BE Aerospace, Goodrich and others. Mexico’s aerospace exports were $683 million last year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Bombardier said it does not comment about customer purchase issues.