In 1998, the National Business Aviation Association started honoring member companies that have flown 50 years or more without an accident, and in 2006, the association added companies that have 60-year records. AIN interviewed some of this year’s honorees to find out about their operations and the secrets of their successes.
Learjet spent a good part of yesterday celebrating the “start of the delivery process” of its new Learjet 75. 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 Canada-based charter operator London Air Services.
The 50th anniversary yesterday of the maiden flight of the first Learjet–the Model 23, on Oct. 7, 1963–begged to be celebrated, and Bombardier obliged with gusto, holding two events at its main assembly facility in Wichita over the weekend. Invited were current and former employees and their families, several special guests and owners and operators who brought examples of almost every Learjet ever produced.
A New York City bash on the deck of the Intrepid last night continued Flexjet’s six-city “Legends Redefined” tour to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Learjet. Attendees were invited to take a private tour of the Learjet 85 model and test-drive Aston Martins before sipping cocktails on the Hudson River. Flexjet has ordered 30 Learjet 85s, with deliveries scheduled to begin next year.
This month Bombardier commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Learjet’s first flight even as the company struggles to launch a larger new flagship, the Model 85, and switch to composite airframe construction. Since 1963, Learjet has become one of the world’s most iconic brands, often generically misused to describe any make/model of private jet, and a conspicuous sign of affluence. Early Learjet owners included crooner Frank Sinatra and industrialist Louise Timken, and their aircraft were a far cry from the comfortable cabins of today.
Bombardier apparently held a private “production rollout” of the all-composite Learjet 85 on September 7 at its Wichita facility, according to a YouTube video posted about a week after the event but removed yesterday shortly after AIN’s inquiry. A Bombardier Business Aircraft spokesman said he could not authenticate the video, even though it appears to have been professionally produced and includes titles with logos and typefaces, as well as music, consistent with other Bombardier-produced videos.
Directional Aviation Capital (DAC)–the Kenn Ricci-led company that owns Flight Options, Sentient Jet, Nextant Aerospace and Constant Aviation, among others–announced last month that it is buying fractional provider Flexjet from Bombardier for $185 million. The transaction is expected to close by year-end, pending U.S. government approvals. All Flexjet employees, including president Deanna White, will remain in place, Ricci said.
Although the name of the NBAA annual meeting and convention has changed to the Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, the yearly celebration of all things business aviation has been and always will be known as the NBAA show, and those headed to Las Vegas for the October 22 to 24 event universally say they are going to “NBAA.”
TAG Engineering Le Bourget has joined Bombardier’s authorized service facility (ASF) network as an authorized line maintenance facility. The MRO is now able to provide line- and base-level maintenance services for the Learjet 60, Learjet 60XR, Challenger 300, Challenger 605, Global Express, Global Express XRS and Global 5000 as well as Global 5000 and Global 6000 equipped with the Bombardier Vision flight deck. It is the only Bombardier ASF at Le Bourget.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Learjet 23’s first flight this October 7, Flexjet launched a six-city U.S. tour dubbed “Legends Redefined.” The showcase features a Learjet 85 mockup, as well as products from other legendary brands, including Aston Martin, Scotch whisky maker Royal Salute and Napa Valley-based Ackerman Family Vineyards. Tour stops and dates are Menlo Park, Calif., September 17; Chicago, September 23; Columbus, Ohio, September 26; Washington, D.C., October 1; New York City, October 7; and Houston, October 15.