Harry Combs, former head of Learjet and founder of AMR Combs, died in Wickenburg, Ariz., on December 23 at the age of 90. Long fascinated by the achievements and legacy of the Wright Brothers, Combs had participated in the December 17 centennial-of-flight activities at Kitty Hawk, N.C., less than a week before his death.
Raisbeck Engineering has started Phase 3 FAA certification flight tests of enhanced performance modifications for the Learjet 35. The Seattle-based company expects to receive an STC for the modifications this summer, and modified aircraft will be called the Learjet 35ZR. The ZR mod was announced at last year’s NBAA show with an introductory price of $200,000 installed.
With the notable exception of professionally flown corporate jet operations, which had no accidents, business turboprops and jets posted more accidents and fatalities last year than in 2002 (71 versus 64 total accidents and 60 versus 51 fatalities), according to statistics compiled by Robert E. Breiling Associates of Boca Raton, Fla.
West Star Aviation in Grand Junction, Colo., is working with the FAA to amend its Learjet 35/36 RVSM STC to include models with the FC-530 autopilot, FC-200 autopilot and Mark IV wings, FC-200 autopilot and non-Softflite Century III wings or FC-531 autopilot and Century III Softflite wings. The amended STC will allow about 70 to 80 additional 30-series Learjets to meet RVSM equipment requirements.
In the January issue of AIN (page 39), we recounted the origins of the Learjet, complete with references to the well worn tale of the Swiss fighter connection. We then heard from Bill Lear’s eldest son, who suggested that “since you can’t get it straight from the horse’s mouth, here it is from the horse’s offspring, who followed closely in the horse’s hoofsteps!”
Activity in the used jet sector continues to thrust ahead as another year-over-year decline in inventory served to strengthen prices among a number of models and appears poised to continue. During the last two years the used inventory averaged a 155 net decline and stands at 1,730 as AIN goes to press, a figure it hasn’t seen in four years.
Avcon Industries has a source of financing available for its reduced vertical separation minimums (RVSM) solution for the Learjet 20 series as well as for other Avcon modifications. It is provided by Commercial Capital Co. for 24-, 36-, 48-, or 60-month terms. More than 80 airplanes have been upgraded using the Avcon STC RVSM Group Solution. Orders for upgrading another 40 airplanes are booked or pending.
Learjets and Challengers have a Teterboro (TEB) maintenance option as Bombardier is now offering drop-in and line service support at the repair station that has previously been dedicated to the Flexjet fractional fleet. The company cited the desire to increase its service and maintenance capacity throughout its domestic service center network.
On the morning of June 18, 1994, a Learjet 25D carrying 10 passengers and two pilots crashed less than a mile from the threshold of Runway 1R on approach to Dulles International Airport.
The 54,000-sq-ft former Learjet maintenance facility at Denver International Airport has been acquired by Denver-based Aviation Development Group, which plans to lease it in whole or in part to corporate aviation interests. The property includes 19,250 sq ft of office space and 34,750 sq ft of hangar area. Bombardier Aerospace vacated the premises a couple of years ago as part of a company-wide consolidation.