May 14, 2014

Persistently windy Wichita hampers Learjet 85 test flights

Blame Wichita’s windy weather.

Blame Wichita’s windy weather.

Flight testing of Bombardier’s new Learjet 85 in Wichita has been hampered recently because of the weather, said Eric Martel, president of Bombardier’s business aircraft segment.

Otherwise, flight testing is going well, Martel said.

“I’m sure you’ve seen the airplane in the air a few times,” Martel said.

The Learjet 85 flew for the first time April 9.

The company is waiting to give an update on when to expect the first delivery of the Learjet 85.

“I want to take time to see how the airplane behaves, how the airplane performs,” Martel said. “We have to put a solid plan (together) internally.”

He did not say when to expect a decision. When a date is announced, “we want to make sure we go out with a precise date,” Martel said.

A series of delays connected to systems integration issues – including software updates – initially prevented the first flight of Bombardier’s fastest Learjet.

The Learjet 85, Bombardier’s largest Learjet, had been set to enter service in late 2013, but early last year the company pushed the date to the summer of 2014.

Bombardier, based in Montreal, announced the clean-sheet design business jet in October 2007. It also is the company’s first Learjet with a composite fuselage and wings.

The plane fits between the midsize and super midsize segments of the business jet market and seats up to eight passengers, with a flight crew of two. It has a range of roughly 3,000 nautical miles and a top speed of 541 mph.

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