NBAA Convention News

Without Grob, Bombardier starts fresh on Learjet 85

 - October 6, 2008, 4:49 PM

At a media briefing here yesterday, Bombardier Learjet vice president and general manager David Coleal strongly hinted that very little of the structural design work done by Grob on the midsize Learjet 85 was salvageable and that Bombardier’s facility in Queretaro, Mexico, would play a critical role in providing most of the aircraft’s structural components.

Coleal also announced that Learjet is tapping the expertise of an internal Bombardier composites advisory board to navigate the way forward on the aircraft and that the company remained committed to delivering the first certified Learjet 85 by 2012.
Bombardier terminated its contract with Grob on September 17 after the German company filed for insolvency. “We learned a lot [from Grob] but a lot was still left to do, so we are going to reevaluate everything,”Coleal said, adding that Grob had not developed any tooling or parts for the Learjet 85 and that most of the engineering work done by Grob probably would not be used in the project going forward. Coleal said Bombardier had no plans to hire any of the Grob engineers involved on the Learjet 85 and that the composites technology on the aircraft could change substantially.

“We are going to use the right technology for the right application on the product, whether that be resin transfer molding on the control surfaces or pre-preg [composite pre-impregnated with resin] materials for primary structure,” he said.
Bombardier had hired Grob to develop the all-composite structure of the Learjet 85.  Grob manufactured the fuselage for the Learjet 85 mockup shortly before the contract was terminated. That mockup is on display at Orlando Executive Airport.

Coleal indicated that Learjet would rely heavily on Bombardier’s new production facility in the Queretaro Aerospace Park north of Mexico City to fabricate the composite structure for the Learjet 85 and that employment at the facility would be increased substantially. Grob was originally tapped to manufacture structures for the first 40 aircraft. Queretaro is already manufacturing the Challenger 850 mid-fuselage, the Q400 aircraft flight control work package (rudder, elevator and horizontal stabilizer), and the aft fuselage on Global models.

Final Learjet 85 assembly will take place in Wichita with Bombardier Montreal and Learjet splitting the engineering duties, and Learjet Wichita serving as the primary facility for systems integration, flight test, final assembly, completions and customer delivery, while Montreal would handle the structures work. Coleal said additional engineers would be hired at both locations to support the program.

Coleal also said Bombardier has tapped C&D Zodiac to serve as the Learjet 85’s cabin integrator and to provide key passenger cabin components. The interior of the mockup was completed in just 12 weeks and was a collaborative effort among Learjet, C&D and the Britain-based design firm DesignQ. The Learjet 85 cabin features stand-up headroom and eight fully berthing single executive seats.