Aurora Jet Partners hopes its first delivery Wednesday of a Learjet 75 in Wichita will be the first of several.
“We’re very excited to get it operating by next week, and we hope to be back for more when we sell this aircraft in fractions,” said Bill McGoey, president of the Edmonton, Canada-based company.
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Aurora’s first Learjet 75 also happened to be the 75th one made at Bombardier Learjet’s plant in west Wichita. So the milestone delivery called for a ceremony to mark the occasion, including speeches by Bombardier Business Aircraft president and former Wichitan David Coleal — a pre-recorded video message played during the ceremony — and Tonya Sudduth, the new general manager of the Wichita site and Learjet programs.
“It’s yet another significant achievement in the proud history of our iconic Learjet brand,” Sudduth told a crowd of about 70 Learjet employees.
The Learjet 75 entered service in November 2013 after Bombardier received a Federal Aviation Administration type certificate that same month.
It’s one of two light business jets manufactured at Bombardier’s Wichita facility. The facility last week lost 120 employees as part of a broader workforce reduction by the Montreal-based plane and train maker to cut 7,000 workers globally — 220 in Wichita — over the next two years.
McGoey said the Learjet 75 that Aurora received Wednesday should be the first of three it takes delivery of this year. The company will use the Learjet for its fractional aircraft ownership program. Further orders and deliveries of Learjet 75s will depend on how quickly it sells fractions with this first Learjet, which will be based at Aurora’s Toronto facility.
“We expect a second one there when this one is sold, and then we have one pegged for Edmonton, which is where our head office is located,” he said. “… We do see more coming; it’s just a matter of our timing and our ability to sell.”
McGoey added that fractional shares of its first Learjet 75 are expected to sell well in Toronto.
“There’s a lot of large size airplanes in Toronto, but not a lot of light ones,” he said. “We’re very excited about our opportunities in Toronto.”
Aurora, whose roots are in the express cargo business beginning in 1971, has expanded to include private charter, fractional ownership, and aircraft management and sales.
It operates a fleet of 12 business jets that include Bombardier Challenger 300, 604 and 605 business jets as well as larger Global 5000s. McGoey said Aurora’s fleet also comprises Embraer Phenom business jets.
In addition to aircraft bases in Toronto and Edmonton, it has a third one in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Last year, he said, Aurora had its best year in business in terms of growth and income.
“Having said that, we are headquartered in (Edmonton) Alberta (Canada), and as we all know a bucket of chicken is more expensive than a barrel of oil right now,” he said. “And we’re in oil country, so we are feeling the effects of low oil price(s).”