The final Learjet 75 rolled out of a Bombardier Wichita hangar Monday afternoon headed to Grand Rapids, Michigan, for delivery to a customer of Northern Jet Management. Just a few hours earlier, the light jet’s departure followed a 30-minute-long ceremony marking the delivery and the end of 60 years of Learjet production.
“There’s no doubt that today is an emotional day for many of us as it marks the end of the production era of Learjet,” said Tonya Sudduth, v-p of Learjet operations. “However, the emotion that I’ve seen most prominent in all of my conversations with [employees] over the past several days and months is pride. Pride for being part of this amazing legacy. And pride in making a lasting mark on aviation history.”
Bombardier announced plans to shutter Learjet production in February 2021 citing a “challenging market dynamic” and competition from new entrants in the light jet category.
More than 3,000 Learjet aircraft have been delivered since the company, under the helm of founder Bill Lear, delivered the first Learjet 23 from Wichita in 1964. Bombardier expects to hold a larger ceremony led by CEO Eric Martel marking the legacy of the Learjet and the future of the Wichita site in mid-April. In addition to Learjet production, the Wichita site’s operations include a service center, engineering, and special mission aircraft.
Despite the end of Learjet production, Bombardier executive v-p of operations Paul Sislian vowed to the several hundred employees and guests attending the ceremony that service and parts support for the Learjet line will continue. “Bombardier is committed to making sure that these 2,000 aircraft presently in service will keep flying well into the future,” Sislian added.
Northern Jet CEO Chuck Cox reiterated that commitment in an interview with AIN, noting he received a call Monday morning from Martel who emphasized parts and service will continue to be available for Learjet aircraft. The final production Learjet 75 will join Northern Jet’s owned and managed fleet of 23 light, super-midsize, and large-cabin jets, 16 of which are Learjets. From there, the Learjet 75 will be delivered to an unnamed Northern Jet customer who will own the airplane and have it managed by the Michigan-based company.
Monday’s delivery represents the 24th Learjet for Northern Jet. The company's first was a Learjet 40XR that it took delivery of in 2007. Cox said the opportunity to take delivery of the final production Learjet was "bittersweet because it’s the last one.”