Bombardier’s Learjet 85 has first flight, but a year behind schedule


MONTREAL – Bombardier’s new Learjet 85 business jet has had its first flight Wednesday over the skies of Kansas, but about a year later than originally planned.

The flight, which as again delayed last month because of an undisclosed system issue and adverse weather, lasted more than two hours. The plane, carrying two pilots and a flight-test engineer, reached an altitude of 30,000 feet and a speed of 250 knots.

Company spokeswoman Annie Cossette said the aircraft “performed as expected.”

“It was a successful first flight,” she said in an interview.

The Learjet 85 project was launched in 2007, with the eight-passenger composite mid-sized business jet originally slated to enter into service this summer. A new date has yet to be disclosed.

Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) hasn’t disclosed how many orders it has received for the aircraft that has a range of some 5,555 kilometres.

The largest customer to date is Flexjet, its former “jet sharing” division. The company, now owned by a U.S. private equity firm, has 60 confirmed orders for a value of approximately US$1.2 billion based on the 2013 list price for the aircraft.

The new business aircraft, powered by engines provided by Pratt & Whitney Canada, joins the CSeries commercial jet among new Bombardier products undergoing flight testing before receiving certification and entry into service. The company is also developing long-range, large-cabin Global 7000 and 8000s.

The Learjet 85 and Globals are expected to add up to US$3.5 billion in added annual revenues, while the CSeries should deliver US$5 billion to US$8 billion, the Montreal-based transportation company recently told investors.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Bombardier’s shares closed down six cents at $4.05 on Wednesday.

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