First Learjet 85 Takes Shape in Wichita

Flight testing of all-composite Learjet expected to start soon.

Learjet 85

Learjet 85

** Learjet 85 production is under way as
Bombardier prepares to begin flight

Bombardier is prepping for the start of certification flight testing of the all-composite Learjet 85 as the first of five eventual test airplanes for the program undergoes final assembly in Wichita.

Bombardier isn’t saying exactly when the first flight will occur, but with certification and entry-into-service of the Learjet 85 targeted for late next year, the milestone should happen soon.

Flying this week visited the final assembly line in Wichita as well as Bombardier's brand new factory in Queretaro, Mexico, where the company is producing Learjet 85 composite fuselages, wings and other major components.

Several Learjet 85 fuselages have been built so far, a number of them solely for destructive testing, including upcoming lightning strike tests at the National Institute for Aerospace Research at Wichita State University.

The Learjet 85 will be the first Part 25 business jet to be certified with a composite fuselage and composite wing. The airplane will feature the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics system, Pratt & Whitney 307B engines producing 6,100 pounds of thrust each, and a cabin management system designed by Lufthansa Technik.

The largest Learjet ever produced, the Model 85 will have a stand-up cabin capable of carrying eight passengers at a maximum cruising speed of Mach 0.82. Range with four passengers is projected to be 3,000 nm. The estimated price is $17.1 million, making the Lear 85 competitive with the Cessna Citation Sovereign and Hawker 900XP.