Bombardier says the first 400 Learjet 85s will be built at a new plant in Mexico, but finishing and delivery preparation will be done in Wichita, necessitating expansion of the already-jammed Kansas facilities. Learjet President David Coleal told a news conference at the National Business Aviation Association convention in Orlando that up to 1,200 people will work at the Mexican facility. On Monday, the company unveiled a full-scale mockup of the aircraft, built by Grob Aerospace, which features a state-of-the-art cockpit and cabin that AVweb toured for an AVweb Exclusive Video.
The mockup was the last thing Grob built for the Learjet 85 project after Bombardier had to sever ties with the Swiss-based company, which was forced into insolvency in late August. Coleal said that while none of the tools and parts built by Grob have been moved, the company expects to maintain its development schedule, which calls for first deliveries in 2012.
The Learjet 85 is 42 percent larger than the next largest Lear, the 60, and Coleal said it will actually be faster.