NBAA Convention News

Flexjet Doubles Orders for Bombardier Learjets

 - October 21, 2013, 10:10 PM
Bombardier Business Aircraft president Steve Ridolfi (left) has received a “vote of confidence” from Kenn Ricci, soon to be owner of the Bombardier’s Flexjet fractional aircraft program. Ricci increased Flexjet’s firm order for new Learjets to a total of 115, including 60 Model 85s. (Photo: Mark Wagner)

Flexjet, which will soon be owned by Directional Aviation Capital, doubled its firm order for Learjet 85s yesterday at NBAA 2013. This latest transaction puts the Flexjet order at 115 firm aircraft from Bombardier (Booth No. N5731)–including 60 Learjet 85s–and options for 150 more. If all of the options are exercised, this brings the order value total to $5.6 billion.

“We’re proud to see Flexjet placing their trust in our new Learjet 85,” said Bombardier Business Aircraft president Steve Ridolfi. “This endorsement is a tremendous vote of confidence as we move towards the first flight of the Learjet 85 jet before the end of the year.”

The key products in Flexjet’s overall order from Bombardier, according to Directional Aviation Capital chairman Kenn Ricci, are the soon-to-be-certified Learjet 75 LXI (a set of custom interior options marks this Flexjet-only design) and the Learjet 85, which made its public debut last week in Wichita.

“Learjet aircraft is without a doubt an iconic product,” said Ricci. “Significant customer demand has convinced us that increasing the size of the Learjet 85 fleet is not only necessary, but will give us a significant product advantage. With a modern interior, range capability and speed, the Learjet 85 will support our discerning clients and leave us uniquely positioned for our future needs.”

The 85 model is the largest and most capable Learjet to date and is expected to cost $20.5 million in 2013 dollars. It it is the first Part 25 business jet with both composite fuselage and wing. “This is Learjet at its best,” Ridolfi said. “The resin-transfer injection process is used for its manufacture. We think it is the first business jet with the complete fuselage baked as one.” Ridolfi believes the composite construction eases manufacturing and makes for an aircraft with fewer parts. “It is a technology not without challenges but we are overcoming them,” he added.

The Model 85 is expected to fly before the end of 2013, with certification expected a year after that. It is powered by the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307B engine, the newest member of the PW300 family, providing transcontinental nonstop range in the U.S. (maximum range 3,000 nm with four passengers); high-speed cruise at Mach 0.82; and long-range cruise at Mach 0.78. Field performance includes takeoff distance of 4,800 feet and landing distance of 2,700 feet. The canted (45-degree) winglets are a compromise to allow better range and climb while sacrificing the least amount of speed.

The avionics include a Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion suite with three 15.1-inch displays. The avionics also include an inertial reference system, integrated dual FMS with electronic charts, Class 1 EFB, synthetic vision, terrain awareness and warning system, weather radar, autothrottles, Waas LPV and a single HF radio. The aircraft’s maximum takeoff weight is 33,500 pounds and its maximum landing weight is 30,150 pounds. Zero-fuel weight is 24,200 pounds and standard basic operating weight is 21,500 pounds.

In the cabin is an HD cabin management system from Lufthansa Technik, with cabin controls at each passenger seat, a DVD player, HD monitors at the bulkheads and an optional three-place divan certified to 16 g for seating during takeoff and landing.

Ricci explained why he chose the Learjet 85 for Flexjet’s fleet: “We like to address three things when purchasing for our fleet: ramp appeal (it’s not pilots buying); mission capability (what can the airplane do?); and durability (can it hold up to the beating we give it in the fractional market?). The Learjet 85 can do all that, and we’ll have it first.”