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A Night at the Museum With a Bombardier Learjet 85

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Written by: Stephen Weisbrot
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NYCAviation recently attended a private viewing of the new Bombardier Learjet 85 at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City. This jet has been in the works since 2007 and was put on display for this occasion by Flexjet, a division of Bombardier. Flexjet offers those budget-conscious executives the opportunity to own a one-sixteenth stake in a private jet (known as “fractional jet ownership,” which equals around 50 flying hours per year). Flexjet plans to take delivery of 30 of these jets beginning in 2014. For those who prefer not to share, one of these jets can be exclusively yours for just $20.8 million.

The event was extravagant in every way.. Aston Martin was on site to allow guests a peek at its newest cars along with Napa Valley-based Ackerman Family Vineyards and Bespoke Collection sampling their finest wines.

The wing-less and engine-less Learjet 85 fuselage on display at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City. Photo credit: Stephen Weisbrot

The wing-less and engine-less Learjet 85 fuselage on display at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City. Photo credit: Stephen Weisbrot

After clearing security to enter Pier 86, guests were directed up two flights of stairs into the Intrepid’s main entrance hall. There, attendees were warmly greeted and checked in for the event. While everyone else enjoyed complimentary wine, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, we went directly onto the balcony to see the glamorous Learjet 85 bathed in the bright spotlights from below. Though engine-less and wing-less, the fuselage alone conveyed elegance and speed.

After admiring the exterior, we made our way to the inside of the fuselage. Indeed, the modern interior had all the quintessential private jet characteristics from comfy leather seats to champagne flutes. However, as someone that stands at 6’2”, I had to crouch under the 5’11” ceiling height.

What really got me excited, though, was the technology in the cockpit. Where dials and gauges once were, dual all-glass displays keep pilots informed at all times. Bombardier calls this the Vision Flight Deck cockpit. It felt similar to what you’d find on the latest commercial Boeing or Airbus aircraft. This jet was even equipped with two iPads, one for each pilot, following the trend to get rid of cumbersome and heavy flight bags. When these aircraft begin to roll out next year, they will be powered by two tail-mounted Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines, each delivering 6,100 pounds of thrust.

The Vision Flight Deck Cockpit onboard the Learjet 85. Photo credit: Stephen Weisbrot

The Vision Flight Deck Cockpit onboard the Learjet 85. Photo credit: Stephen Weisbrot

Though categorized as a midsize business jet, the Learjet 85 is the largest Lear aircraft ever built. It is composed primarily of carbon composite material and can accommodate eight passengers and a crew of two. It boasts a range of 3,000 nautical miles and a top cruising speed of 541 miles per hour (mach 0.82).

This aircraft follows in the footsteps of a long and rich history of Learjet aircraft. William Powell Lear founded Learjet as the Swiss American Aviation Corporation back in the late 1950s, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas. Subsequently, in February 1963 the assembly of the first Learjet began. The first test flight of the Learjet 23 successfully took to the skies on October 7, 1963. This made the night on the Intrepid — exactly 50 years after the first flight — all the more significant. After years of mergers and acquisitions, Bombardier Aerospace ultimately purchased the Learjet Corporation in 1990.

Today, the Learjet 85 is part of a larger family of Bombardier business jets including the Challenger and the Global. Bombardier plans to build the 85 primarily at a facility in Querétaro, Mexico which opened in 2010. Other components to the jet, like parts of the wing, will be manufactured and shipped from Belfast in Northern Ireland.

Stephen Weisbrot joined NYCAviation in 2013. Stephen has a background in brand design, marketing, and strategy and is a resident of New York City. As a self-diagnosed #avgeek, he aspires to become a pilot one day as well. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @StephenWeisbrot.

About the Author

Stephen Weisbrot



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