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Testing progressing as Learjet 85 prepares for maiden flight

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, at 7:56 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, at 6:39 a.m.

Bombardier Learjet’s flight test center in Wichita is a busy place.

The all-new Learjet 85 business jet is scheduled to take its maiden flight this month, a key milestone in the program as it works toward certification.

The eight-passenger business jet has been undergoing testing in the Wichita flight test center. That has been progressing, said Annie Cossette, a Bombardier spokeswoman.

“We’ll fly when we’re ready,” Cossette said.

The composite Learjet 85 is a clean-sheet design introduced in 2007. It’s the largest and fastest Learjet model the company has produced. It’s on track to enter service in late 2014.

Bombardier also plans to flight-test its new CSeries commercial plane in Wichita during the winter months to continue to accumulate test flight hours as the company works toward certification, Cossette said.

Its primary test facility for the CSeries is in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada.

But Bombardier’s largest flight test center is in Wichita, where all of the company’s business jet models undergo flight testing.

There’s not a specific date for when the C-Series planes will arrive in Wichita, Cossette said.

“It was always part of the plan for the aircraft to get some testing done in Wichita,” she said. “It’s not unusual for us to complete hot and cold weather testing at different testing facilities.”

Coming to Wichita “is to meet the weather, the temperature and the runway requirements,” Cossette said.

The first C-Series plane also is scheduled for entry into service in late 2014.

In addition to the occasional testing of the first two flight test planes, the company will test the complex avionics equipment in a third test airplane in Wichita, according to a report in the Montreal Gazette.

The CSeries aircraft is designed for the 100- to 149-seat market. The project was launched in 2004 but was halted in early 2006 because it failed to gain significant orders. In January 2007, Bombardier announced that work on the plane would continue.

Bombardier has booked orders and commitments for 419 planes, which include 182 firm orders from 16 customers.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @mmcmillin.

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