Let’s Go Flying
The 75 has excellent cockpit ergonomics, having 220 deg. of visibility out of the windshields and side windows. The quiet, dark cockpit design of the Model 45 is carried over to the Learjet 75. But the main lighting switches have been moved to an overhead panel, a first for a Learjet. They're still toggle switches. We'd prefer the quiet/dark annunciator light switches as used aboard some other business jets.
's Vision flight deck, fea–turing Garmin G5000 avionics, uses three, portrait configuration, 14-in. displays that provide a wealth of information, especially compared to the original Primus 1000 avionics package. A pair of touch-screen controllers (TCSes) replaces the conventional FMS CDUs, radio tuning units, audio control panels and display controls, plus the rotary system test knob.
Building a flight plan is more akin to using an iPhone or iPad as compared to punching in characters on a traditional FMS keyboard. TCS icons pretty much guide you through the process. The touchscreen virtual keypad, concentric knob controls or graphic flight planning can be used to select waypoints, procedures and airways. As with all Garmin navigation systems, comm frequencies are part of the database and they can be selected for use by the VHF comm transceivers at the touch of a virtual button.
Bombardier sales engineer Matthew St. Cyr aptly describes the system as “Apple for avionics” because Vision using G5000 is easily discoverable and seldom leaves the crew asking, “What's it doing now?” More features will be added after deliveries begin in early 2014, including full takeoff and landing performance computations and full FANS-1/FANS-A functionality.
Virtually all of the systems functionality is carried over from the Model 45 to the Learjet 75. Automated functions are retained but so are some manual functions. Boost pump operation, for example, is completely automatic unless cross flow is needed. But the pressurization system still requires the crew to program in the landing field elevation. That function is not linked to the new Garmin FMS.
Taxiing out of the chocks, the wheel brakes felt smooth and responsive. Not so, the nosewheel steering. It still takes some practice to make smooth turns at low speeds because the rudder pedals provide little or no centering feedback.
Demonstration pilot Greg Eastburn in the right seat conservatively computed 113 KIAS for the V1/Vr decision and rotation speeds, 123 KIAS for the V2 one-engine-inoperative takeoff safety speed and 148 KIAS for flap retraction based on the 18,000-lb. takeoff weight, Wichita Mid-Continent Airport's 1,333-ft. field elevation, 29.83 barometer setting and 31C temperature. Takeoff field length was 4,260 ft. When the aircraft earns certification, it's likely that 2 to 4 kt. will be shaved off those V speeds, according to Bombardier's flight test data.
Once cleared for takeoff on Runway 19R and I pushed up the power levers to the takeoff detent, it was immediately apparent that this aircraft may resemble the Model 45, but it doesn't perform like one. The combination of 10% more thrust and 200 lb. less weight had a palpable effect as the aircraft accelerated.
Rotation forces were as hefty as those of the Model 45, as were roll control forces. Control feel was much lighter in the old Model 20 and 30 series aircraft.
Once we stabilized at 250 KIAS, the aircraft settled into a 6,000- to 7,000-fpm initial rate of climb. Safety pilot Lyn Jacques logged our passing through FL 350 in 14 min. since beginning takeoff roll, even though we were climbing in ISA+12C to ISA+20C conditions.
We leveled at FL 430 in 19 min. and settled into Mach 0.78 normal cruise. At a weight of 17,000+ lb., the aircraft zipped along at 444 KTAS at ISA-4C while sipping 1,040 lb./hr. Pushing up the thrust levers to cruise at the Mach 0.81 redline, we trued at 460 KTAS at the same OAT while burning 1,240 lb./hr. Operators choose Learjets for speed and fuel efficiency and the Model 75 delivers.
We then headed to Hutchison, Kan., Municipal Airport (HUT) to fly the RNAV (GPS) Runway 13 LPV procedure. During the descent, we encountered a TCAS traffic advisory alert. Unlike some other Garmin display systems, the G5000 in the Learjet 75 does not provide 3-D traffic imagery on the PFD. Instead, a small bird's-eye view chart inset pops up, showing traffic in two dimensions with the intruder's altitude differential shown in numerical digits.
Eastburn requested clearance for the full RNAV procedure to demonstrate Vision's ability to compute the required guidance maneuvers to enter a procedure turn and fly the entire procedure. We flew most of the procedure with the autopilot coupled and the system guided the aircraft smoothly and precisely throughout.
At minimums, we executed a missed approach. Pressing the Go Around button on the throttle disengages the autopilot, thus initially the missed approach must be flown by hand. After the appropriate lateral and vertical flight guidance modes have been programmed, the autopilot again may be coupled.
We headed back to Wichita for a couple of touch and goes, followed by a full-stop landing. The long travel, trailing-link landing gear made for cushy landings and the wheel brakes were powerful, smooth and chatter-free.