has conducted low-speed taxi tests on the all-new, all-composite 85 business jet, with a first flight from Wichita expected “in the next few weeks,” says Guy Hachey, president of the Canadian manufacturer’s Aerospace division.
Deliveries of the Learjet 75 have also begun following delayed certification of the revamped version of the super-light Learjet 45 in mid-November.
After delays caused by integration issues with the Learjet 70/75’s new Garmin G5000 flight deck, Bombardier receivedcertification on Nov. 14 and delivered the first 75 last week, Hachey says.
“We’re progressing through the backlog of deliveries that we have,” he says. “Now it’s more execution. We have a lot of aircraft that have been completed that we’re just going through basically C of A [certificates of airworthiness], and then getting the customers to buy them off.”
Bombardier has a number of the new Learjets to deliver before Christmas, he says, but adds, “I think we can meet our original delivery schedule.”
Delays to the Learjet 85 were caused by the time required to work though certification concerns with the aircraft’s all-composite airframe. “We’re in good shape from a structures standpoint now,” says Hachey. “From now on its more a normal flight-test program.”
The Learjet 70/75 and 85 are among several new or upgraded business jets being developed by Bombardier. The others are the updated super midsize Challenger 350, now flying and scheduled for delivery in 2014, and the long-range, large-cabin Global 7000 and 8000, which are planned for certification in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Bombardier is already looking at what will come next. “Right now we have so much on our plate,” Hachey says. “But the good news is the 70/75 is done. The 85 is going to be flying shortly. The 350 is going to be on schedule in the first part of next year, so that’s on track. The [Challenger] 605 right now is going to remain the way that it is. We haven’t announced anything. And the 7000 and 8000 are still on track for ’16 and ’17.”
Although Hachey says nothing has been announced for the large 605, apresentation at the Aero Montreal forum here on Dec. 2 listed a “Challenger NG” among future business opportunities for its aircraft systems business.
“Probably the more vulnerable area we have is the 605, because it’s the oldest product,” acknowledges Hachey. “On the other hand, there’s a loyal following, a core group that likes the workhorse characteristic of the 605, the size of the fuselage, and the reliability. And we have a very large installed base.
“The market is not going to be on fire for the 605, but we’re going to be able to maintain the production schedule until we’re able to do something – an iterative improvement or something more significant,” he says.
Hachey says Bombardier’s experience developing both the Learjet 85 andall-new airliner will help with future programs. While the Learjet 85 is less risky than the CSeries, “the structural part of it is very high risk,” he says.
“It was a big bet. We’re learning a lot. It’s something that we’ll be able to base a lot of our future decisions on, because now we know how to build a composite aircraft,” he says, while acknowledging development “has taken a long time. If it was in metal, it would have been easier.”
The CSeries program, meanwhile, is paving the way for the fly-by-wire Global 7000/8000. “The Globals are more of the same in terms of excellence, but not big things. A lot of the stuff will have been done on the CSeries,” he says. “All of the avionics infrastructure and back-room stuff will be the same as we did on the Global Vision [cockpit], put on the CSeries, and then on the new Globals. So each program is helping the other.”