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October 12, 2012

Photos: A Date With The New Learjet 85

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Learjet 85 mockup parked next to the USS Intrepid. (Photo by Jason Tinacci)

The Learjet 85 is Bombardier’s newest midsize business jet. So new in fact that it has yet to actually fly, but in the meantime, launch customer Flexjet and Bombardier have been trucking a full-size mockup (minus wings and engines) around North America for the past few months to drum up excitement and orders. Last week the tour made its way to New York and we got to take a look around the shiny new plane.

Photos: The New Learjet 85 Inside and Out

First off, it seems wider than other jets this size when you walk in. That’s because it is. Thanks to its composite fuselage, engineers can mold it into more of an oval shape than they can with traditional aluminum, so it has more room on the sides, much like its Bombardier CSeries cousin or the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. This allows for wider seats and a better sense of space.

Composite construction also means no rivets on the body, which reduces drag, and it’s lighter. In range performance, that translates into 3,455 miles between fill-ups — roughly 700 miles farther than the Learjet 60 XR.

The interior of the mockup is, like every bizjet demo model ever, gorgeous. Leather, wood and shiny metal are abundant. It seats eight, and has a generous cargo area in the tail that is accessible from the cabin. While it does feel a bit roomier thanks to the added width, there’s no getting around the low ceilings in any jet this size. I hit my head on the overhead console while attempting to take a seat, and I’m only 5′ 7″ (and a bit of a clutz).

In my personal fantasy world where I pick what plane I’d buy if given a couple dozen million dollars to spend, I would opt for a used airliner over any business jet for the sheer advantage of being able to walk around without smacking my face into things. (Say what you will about Donald Trump, but I think most avgeeks would admit his taste in aircraft is brilliant.) But for those who are spending real money on these things for real utility, the advantage of a smaller jet that can access 10-times as many airports while burning a fraction of the fuel of a 737 is obvious.

Flexjet expects to take delivery of their first Learjet 85 in October 2013, and they’ll sell you a fraction of a plane that looks a lot like this one starting at $100,000. If you want to go all Xzibit on your own -85, you can have one to yourself starting at around $17.5 million.

If you’d like to climb aboard the Learjet 85 yourself, it’ll be on display at the NBAA Annual Convention in Orlando October 30-November 1.



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