New Business Jet: Learjet Announces the NXT

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In late October Bombardier announced plans to build an all-new midsize Learjet dubbed the NXT, for next generation Learjet. It is odd that the company chose to announce the large project with only a press release instead of great fanfare at a major tradeshow as is the norm. However, Bombardier had been busy shopping the future airplane and said it had 65 letters of intent from customers before the announcement.

The sparse details in the announcement include a top cruise speed of Mach .82, maximum range of 3,000 nm and a "larger, more comfortable cabin than any existing midsize aircraft." The cabin is described as "stand-up" size, but no dimensions were announced, nor were there projections on payload available, runway requirements or price, specifications that typically accompany a new airplane program launch. The target date for the first public "unveiling" of the NXT is October of this year, marking the 45th anniversary of the first flight of the original Learjet, but no goals for certification and first delivery were revealed.

Most interesting is a red hot rumor around Wichita that the NXT will be constructed entirely of composites, wings and all. Hawker-Beechcraft uses composites for the fuselage of the Premier and Hawker 4000 business jets, and Boeing is building the 787 fuselage primarily of composites, but no major manufacturer has attempted an all-composite turbine since the Beech Starship in the late 1980s. Bombardier has not yet used composites for primary structure in its line of business jets, so if the rumors are true, the NXT will certainly represent a new generation.