Bombardier Will End Learjet Production By End of 2021

The Canadian company will refocus its facilities in Wichita towards flight test and special-missions aircraft.

Learjet 75 Liberty
The end of the Learjet production lines brings the Learjet 75 model to a close, along with the cessation of the Learjet 85 program.Bombardier

In its annual earnings report for 2020, presented on February 11, 2021, Bombardier’s leadership announced the cessation of production for the Learjet series in Wichita, Kansas. The Montreal, Quebec-based company will refocus its facilities in Wichita towards flight test and special missions aircraft. With the end of major aircraft manufacturing there, the Learjet 75 model will cease production by the end of 2021, and the Learjet 85 program will be discontinued.

The news came within a mixed report on the previous year. Éric Martel, president and CEO of Bombardier, summed it up: “2020 was one of the most difficult years for our company,” along with the entire aviation industry. The company saw $6.5 billion in revenues for its business aircraft division, with 114 deliveries overall and a $10.7-billion multi-year backlog. The mix of jets over 2020 broke down into 59 units in the Global series (5000/5500/6000/6500/7500/8000), 44 Challengers (350/650), and 11 Learjet 75s.

“We’re targeting a much larger portion of our business to come from services” as the company moves forward, said Martel. As to the close of the Learjet product line, he remarked, “We have an amazing product on the Learjet but we had a lot of competition in the light-jet market. This is a decision we did not take lightly.” With the competitive playing field in that segment, Bombardier is opting to focus on the larger aircraft segments where it has better margins, including the Global and Challenger lines. In fact, part of the company’s renewed optimism towards its balance sheet comes from improved margins on the manufacture of the Global 7500.

“We’re not abandoning our customer support” on the iconic series, said Martel, emphasizing the company’s commitment to the product line. Bombardier plans to complete the Learjet aircraft currently in production, and sell them before transitioning focus to the service and refurbishment programs, such as the RACER remanufacturing program for the Learjet 40/45 series. That program touches all parts of the airplane, including revamped interior and exterior features, upgraded avionics, and engine and maintenance programs aimed at reducing operational costs.

Bombardier envisions 2021 as a transition year for the company and the industry, with a projected 110 to 120 units to deliver. The company took 43 orders in the fourth quarter of 2020 to support the forecast. Until the world sees borders open and an easing of international travel restrictions, however, recovery will be uneven, and the leadership expressed uncertainty as to when sales and activity would return to 2019 levels.

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