Learjet spent a good part of the day October 17 celebrating the “start of the delivery process” of its new Learjet 75 at its facilities in Wichita.
The first aircraft went to business entrepreneur Louis Beck and his Speedbird LCC. Beck, present at the delivery ceremonies, expressed satisfaction with the acquisition. He is a long-time Learjet owner and said he had never heard a pilot complain about Speedbird’s previous aircraft, a Learjet 45. And he added, “there’s also the unmistakable sex appeal that is Learjet.”
The second delivery was five Learjet 75s to Canadian charter operator London Air Services. London Air already has eight Bombardier airplanes in its fleet–five Learjet 45XRs, a Challenger 604 and two Challenger 605s. Also on order is a Global 7000. President and CEO Wynne Powell said the Learjet 75 will allow non-stop flights from Vancouver to Montreal 95 percent of the time, compared with 85 percent of the time with the Learjet 45XR. “We have the luxury of being able to buy the best, and this is it,” he said, pointing to the five aircraft waiting on the ramp in London Air Services livery.
London Air has 28 full-time pilots and, according to Powell, transition of pilots from the Learjet 45XR (Honeywell Primus 1000 avionics) to the Learjet 75 (Bombardier Vision/Garmin 5000 avionics) will require only about a week.
The Learjet 75 is still awaiting full certification, which Learjet v-p and general manager Ralph Acs said was delayed by the government shutdown, an event that effectively closed down much of the FAA’s certification and aircraft registration services for 17 days. Acs said the flight test phase had been completed and the final paperwork had already been submitted to the FAA before the shutdown. In terms of final certification, he added, “We’re at the one-yard line.”
The Learjet 75 replaces the Learjet 45XR and, according to Learjet, the maintenance requirements of the newest Learjet to go into service are about one-third those of the 45XR.
The Learjet backlog includes firm orders from fractional operator Flexjet for 25 Learjet 75s and 30 Learjet 85s. Bombardier fractional entity Flexjet is being acquired by Directional Aviation Capital, parent company of Flight Options.