February 14, 2014
Bombardier executives report that the first flight of its all-new Learjet 85 is “very close,” but the manufacturer does not plan to determine a certification and delivery schedule until the aircraft has flown for a few months.
While the company makes final preparations for the first flight, it continues to progress toward certification this year of the Challenger 350 and final designs for its top-of-the-line Global 7000 and 8000 programs.
The 85, which will be Bombardier’s largest Learjet yet, was quietly rolled out to employees in September. But first flight has been held up while the company completed systems integration and made sure the systems “responded the way they should,” Bombardier President and CEO Pierre Beaudoin told reporters in a conference call.
Problems with the composite program that have pushed back first flight by at least a year have been ironed out, Beaudoin says. “[It was] a little challenging to get all the composite programs done and produced,” he said, adding, “that’s all behind us now.”
Bombardier’s focus is now on moving forward with the flight-test program, and “that’s going to happen shortly.” Bombardier expects to apply for the flight-test permit soon.
The first flight-test vehicle, FTV1, is complete, Bombardier says, and “functional testing procedures are advancing as expected.” The airplane has completed auxiliary power unit and engine runs, along with low-speed taxiing tests. Other completed tests include key ground vibration and flight control ground testings. “Tests have shown results as expected,” the company reports.
Meanwhile, the company has begun production and assembly of additional flight-test vehicles, and is working to validate and certify the manufacturing process for its composite technology.
But when the aircraft will enter service has yet to be determined. Beaudoin says that similar to its approach in establishing a timeline for the CSeries, the company will fly the 85 “for a period” and then set the schedule.
The Learjet 85 was among six new business jet and/or aircraft upgrade programs that Bombardier had at least publicly ongoing at the same time. The Learjet 70 and 75, upgrades of the 40 XR and 45 XR respectively, won certification late last year, and the company says the new Challenger 350 remains on target for certification in 2014.