Learjet’s Wichita Site ‘Alive and Well,’ Bombardier Says

Bombardier is finding other uses for the production site of the now-abandoned Learjets.
Credit: Molly McMillin

Bombardier’s Learjet site in Wichita is undergoing a transition as it prepares to deliver its final iconic business jet in early 2022.

The company stresses it is not abandoning the Learjet brand or its Wichita presence and the site is very much alive and well. Bombardier announced in February that it planned to stop production on Learjets to focus on its more-lucrative medium and large business jet segments.

“What do we do with Wichita was a key question for us because this is a group of talented people we have there,” Eric Martel, Bombardier president and CEO, told ShowNews. “We have engineering capability—a lot of knowledge.”

Bombardier, which employs about 1,000 people in Wichita, is establishing a Center of Excellence there for missionized aircraft, such as air ambulances and aircraft for military surveillance systems. It also operates its flight test center and is expanding its service center to maintain Learjet, Challenger and some Global business jets. It has doubled its service center staffing.

“So, what we see in our Wichita site is really the ability to bring engineering, parts fabrication, parts storage, service, center of excellence and custom design capabilities all together in one site,” says Christopher Debergh, Bombardier’s vice president of OEM parts and services. “Frankly, [there] isn’t really within the Bombardier network another site that has this level of capability.”

Bombardier’s largest engine capability is in Wichita. Its field assistants and engineering support teams are in place and the site has added a large wheel and tire shop in the past year.

Today, 130-150 technicians are at work assembling the Learjet 75 Liberty light jet; some of them have been with the company for 15-25 years. Bombardier has been helping them retrain to become certified airframe and powerplant mechanics—a natural move, it says.

Bombardier also plans to turn its manufacturing warehouses into spare parts facilities. It also will expand into two additional hangars in the next two months and two more hangars early in 2022.

The Wichita site is the home base for support of NetJets’ fleet of 150 Bombardier aircraft. It also is central to Bombardier’s “Racer” remanufacturing program for Learjet 40 and 45 aircraft, which provides interior and exterior refurbishment.

Molly McMillin

Molly McMillin, a 25-year aviation journalist, is managing editor of business aviation for the Aviation Week Network and editor-in-chief of The Weekly of Business Aviation, an Aviation Week market intelligence report.