Delays in Bombardier’s Learjet 85 midsize jet program have focused around systems integration issues in making sure all the systems in the plane are responding the way they should, Pierre Beaudoin, president and CEO of Bombardier, said in a conference call Thursday.
Bombardier’s new composite Learjet 85, the largest and longest range Learjet to date, had originally been scheduled to enter service in 2013.
Last year, the company said the first flight would take place by the end of the year, but that has been delayed.
“There have been some adjustments here and there,” Beaudoin said, adjustments that had to be done before the airplane is presented to the Federal Aviation Administration for flight approval.
“Now, we’re very close to presenting the airplane,” he said in a call with analysts. After that it will be days or weeks before it goes to first flight.
After the all-composite plane has flown for a period of time, Bombardier will release a new schedule for the Learjet 85 and its expected entry into service, Beaudoin said.
The Learjet 85 program is making solid progress, the company said.
“The first flight is very close,” Beaudoin said.
Bombardier had challenges to get all the composite components of the Learjet 85 finished and “produceable,” Beaudoin said.
Bombardier has made significant progress on the composites, he said. “We understand what needs to be done for production,” he said. “We feel confident about our ability to manufacture this airplane.”
Also on Thursday, the company announced that Bombardier Aerospace plans to deliver 200 business jets and 80 commercial aircraft in 2014, up about 20 percent from last year’s numbers.
Bombardier delivered 238 planes last year, compared with 233 in 2012.
In 2013, Bombardier’s business aircraft division delivered 29 Learjets, 89 Challengers and 62 Globals, compared with 39 Learjets, 86 Challengers and 54 Globals in 2012.
Bombardier took net orders during 2013 for 388 airplanes, including 305 business aircraft. That includes a firm order from the buyer of Flexjet for 85 Learjets and 30 Challengers.
Demand for smaller business jets, the Wichita-built Learjets, “is struggling,” however, Beaudoin said on the conference call.
The company announced late last month that it was cutting 550 jobs in Wichita, part of a company-wide reduction of 1,700 jobs. In Wichita, about 200 of the 550 workers to be laid off departed in December.
Bombardier recorded $18.2 billion in revenue and $572 million in net income last year, up 5 percent in both cases, the company said Thursday.
For the fourth quarter, revenue totaled $5.3 billion, compared with $4.6 billion for the same time a year ago.
“2013 was a good year for Bombardier with major milestones reached in our product development,” Beaudoin said in a statement.
The CSeries had its first flight in September and is well into its extensive flight test program. And the Learjet 70 and 75 entered service, Beaudoin said.
Bombardier’s aerospace and transportation sectors had a strong year of orders, the company said.