Very light jet. Super-midsize. Ultra-long-range. These are just some of the names that manufacturers, analysts and aviation journalists use to try to pigeonhole business jets into an increasing number of market niches. But with so much fragmentation in the field and a blurring of traditional lines, such attempts at classification are becoming harder than ever.
Since last year’s NBAA Convention, several manufacturers have launched new airplanes or announced derivative designs based on previous models. Although there weren’t a lot of new certifications obtained in the past year, and despite the sagging economic and warning flags presaging slower business aviation activity, manufacturers–new and old alike–haven’t shied away from introducing new products.
Bombardier is scrambling to develop new production plans for the midsize Learjet 85 after dropping troubled Grob as the supplier of the airplane’s composite fuselage.
The Canadian manufacturer last month terminated its contract for the Learjet 85 fuselage in the wake of Grob’s German affiliate filing for insolvency.
Bombardier has terminated its contract with Grob Aerospace AG of Switzerland to develop the composite structure for the Learjet 85. Grob’s German affiliate filed for insolvency on August 18. In a statement released on September 18, Steve Ridolfi, president of Bombardier Business Aircraft, said, “Given the uncertainty surrounding Grob’s insolvency, Learjet has decided to terminate its agreement with Grob Aerospace, effective Sept. 17, 2008.
Bombardier has terminated its contract with Grob Aerospace AG of Switzerland to develop the composite structure for the Learjet 85. Grob’s German affiliate filed for insolvency on August 18. In a statement released this afternoon, Steve Ridolfi, president of Bombardier Business Aircraft, said, “Given the uncertainty surrounding Grob’s insolvency, Learjet has decided to terminate its agreement with Grob Aerospace, effective Sept. 17, 2008.
Pierre Beaudoin’s reign as Bombardier president and CEO began on June 4. The younger Beaudoin succeeded his father, Laurent–who will remain chairman of the board of directors–as the head of the Canadian transportation giant.
The Bombardier Learjet 40 conforming prototype made its first flight on August 31 and five days later the first Learjet 40 production airplane made its first flight as well, Bombardier announced yesterday here in Orlando. And last night, the derivative model flew into Orlando Executive Airport from Wichita to take a spot on the static display line beside its sister aircraft.
Dallas-based Bombardier Flexjet announced at the end of April that it had added the new Challenger 605 to its fractional fleet. Five Challenger 605s are among 24 new aircraft scheduled to enter service with Flexjet this year. Other new arrivals will include the super-midsize Challenger 300 and midsize Learjet 60XR.
Bombardier’s Skyjet International executive aircraft charter program will be in safe hands with proposed new Swiss owner VistaJet, according to the Canadian aircraft manufacturer. Bob Horner, Bombardier’s senior v-p for sales, told AIN that the proposed sale would provide a solid base for VistaJet and for operators of the aircraft involved.
Eyebrows were raised in January when Grob was named as the single source for the Learjet 85’s entire primary and secondary composite structures. That was because Zurich-based Grob is also developing another all-composite light jet, its own SPn, which could potentially compete with Bombardier’s Learjet 40XR.