Some three months after taking the wraps off the latest iteration of the venerable Learjet line—the Learjet 75 Liberty—Bombardier will debut a full-size mockup of the interior of the now lower-cost light jet during NBAA’s annual convention later this month. Bombardier unveiled the Liberty in early July, a revamp of the 75 with fewer seats to provide a more spacious cabin, newly designated standard and optional features, and extended engine maintenance intervals.
According to Bombardier Business Aircraft manager of product planning and strategy Mischa Loeffler, the result is a lighter-weight aircraft that burns less fuel, has lower operating costs, and decreased acquisition costs. Regarding the latter, the list price has dropped from $13.8 million for the current Model 75 to $9.9 million for the Liberty, an acquisition price that Bombardier executives emphasize is now in the ballpark of other light jets.
Loeffler said the goal was to open the market for the Learjet, making it available for more operators. While it had a strong reputation and brand, “many people didn’t think of it as accessible. We wanted to change perception; you can step up as a budget operator into a Learjet,” he said.
The changes, Loeffler added, serve multiple purposes. “It not only opens up the [product] to more operators, but it demonstrates our commitment to the program, to Learjet, and to this iconic brand.”
Bombardier has created an executive suite in the cabin with six seats, including two forward-facing seats that have three feet of legroom, which Loeffler said is unprecedented in the segment. The rear four seats are in club configuration. The cabin offers features such as stowable ottomans and large retractable side tables. Bombardier will offer eight-seat configurations upon customer request.
A notable change is that Bombardier has now made standard a front cabin pocket door, which Loeffler said creates “a quiet haven for the executive.” The door can make the cabin as much as 8 dB quieter.
Other changes surround operating costs as Bombardier moves to dispel the perception that performance of the Learjet comes at a cost, Loeffler said. To help lower such costs, Bombardier worked with engine-maker Honeywell to extend the maintenance interval for the TFE731-40BR engines powering the aircraft from 3,000 hours to 3,500 hours, he added.
Further, it has made optional some equipment that is standard on the current Learjet 75, including the auxiliary power unit (APU) and certain external lighting. Removing this equipment makes the 75 a lighter and more efficient jet, he said, noting it now has a 2,080-nm range—a 40-nm improvement. It is capable of connecting Las Vegas to New York and Seattle to Washington, D.C.
The twinjet's ceiling remains unchanged at 51,000 feet, as does the flight deck, the Bombardier Vision with the recently announced upgrades to the Garmin G5000 avionics, as well as Gogo ATG 4G wireless connectivity. Top speed is Mach 0.81.
On the APU, Loeffler said the Model 75 is the only light jet to offer it, and it will remain an option. However, testing has shown that the air conditioning system is powerful enough to cool the cabin without the APU.
Important to Bombardier is that the Learjet differs from other light jets in that it was certified to the more stringent FAR Part 25, which applies to larger, heavier jets. With Part 25, the 75 has had to meet more stringent bird-strike tolerances, flight control redundancy, rotor burst protection, takeoff margins, and ice-protection standards.
Deliveries of the Liberty are expected to begin next year, and Loeffler said initial aircraft have already been sold. In fact, he said, last summer’s unveiling already has generated “great interest.” But he said Bombardier will still be offering customer-specific incentives at NBAA 2019.
Bombardier will showcase the mockup on its stand at the NBAA static display at Henderson Executive Airport. “The mockup will truly show light jet customers just how much more spacious and comfortable our newest Learjet is,” said Peter Likoray, Bombardier Business Aircraft senior v-p of worldwide sales and marketing.