Bombardier To Close Down Learjet Production


Bombardier has announced that it intends to end Learjet production in the fourth quarter of 2021 in order to focus on its Challenger and Global aircraft families. Stating that it will continue to support the Learjet fleet “well into the future,” the company also launched its Learjet RACER remanufacturing program on Thursday. The program will offer upgrades for the Learjet 40 and Learjet 45 including interior and exterior components, new avionics, high-speed connectivity and engine enhancements.

“With more than 3,000 aircraft delivered since its entry-into-service in 1963, the iconic Learjet aircraft has had a remarkable and lasting impact on business aviation,” said Bombardier CEO Éric Martel. “However, given the increasingly challenging market dynamics, we have made this difficult decision to end Learjet production.”

The decision to wind down Learjet production was announced as part of the Bombardier’s full year 2020 financial report. Citing market conditions and the need “to make the organization more efficient and agile,” Bombardier also said that it plans to eliminate approximately 1,600 positions from its overall workforce and consolidate Global aircraft completion work in Montréal, Canada. The company reported that it delivered 114 aircraft in 2020 and saw its business aircraft revenues grow 3 percent year-over-year.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. End of an era. It’s safe to say if there had been no Lear, Bombardier’s (and probably everyone else’s as well) bizjet product line would be completely different – if it would exist at all.

  2. We had the NA265 and the L 329 from the late ’50s. But the LR23 was a definite game changer. Rocket ship!

  3. I have 6 business jet type ratings. The Lear was fun to fly (what a climber!)–but a handful. There are all kinds of “gotchas” with the airplane that require pilot attention and compensation to fly it safely. As the first “purpose built” business jet, pilots had to fly the early Lears without benefit of good ground school or simulators. Most of these pilots were moving up from piston aircraft (there were no turboprops back then–Bill Lear opined “We’re going to skip that step”)

    The accident record on the early airplanes was horrendous. Even today, many major corporations prohibit their people from flying on Learjets–though the new Learjets have little in common with the old. Bombardier was never able to eliminate the “Fearjet” stigma–though they tried. Lears are tough airplanes–they will be around for a long time–IF Bombardier keeps supporting them.

  4. In the late 80’s to the early 2000’s I had the opportunity to fly the -24B, -24D, -24E, -24F, -25 B, -25D, -28, -31A, and -35A; with the Mk II wing and the Century wing mods. Rocket Ship, at least compared to any other production light jet built then or since ( the Falcon 10 comes close)…the -35 had range, payload speed. Best advice I got was NEVER let the airplane get slower than 150 kts in the pattern and 130 on short final until over the threshold….and don’t try to hand fly it at altitude. Jim Raisbeck developed mods to make the airplane easier and safer to fly, and took most of the challenge out of the 35. Now its just another legacy type rating.

  5. Amazing, the Challenger series of wider business jets owes its life to Bill Lear though he and Canadair parted company before completion.

    Bombardier isn’t doing much these days, sold trains and airliners and …. Perhaps owns the separate snowmobile company.

    (Bombardier Recreational Products makes recreational snowmobiles, small water craft, modest boats, outboard engines for small boats, ATVs of some kind, and at least some of the Rotax line of engines.
    Bombardier was started by an entrepreneur who married bulldozer-like tracks with skis to carry several people in winter.

    Of course today helicopters are routinely used to get people to medical help, weather permitting.

  6. It’s appropriate here to give a nod to former test pilot and head of flight test at Bombardier Pete Reynolds. According to The Wichita Eagle Pete flew first flights of the 24E, 40, 55c, 60, 31 and 31A. I learned to know Pete at a different company after his retirement from Bombardier and found him to be someone who paid exquisite attention to detail, was a soft spoken gentleman and a genuinely nice human being. The Wichita Eagle quotes Dave Franson, Wichita Aero Club president as having said of Pete that he could “fly anything that didn’t have a beak and feathers.” Pete was to have been inducted into the Kansas Hall of Fame prior to his death in 2014 at the age of 69 but his illness took him several days before the ceremony. He was inducted into the Kansas Hall of Fame posthumously.

  7. Another aviation legend now becomes an orphan. Seems inevitable when the cost of development for a new airframe forces constant redevelopment of an existing airframe. At some point, the old becomes somewhat new and improved. However, inevitably, there are only so many tweaks and mods that can be done. Bombardier has scuttle the Lear jet series when making a small profit. At least it went out on a small, semi-positive note company wise. Maybe now, there can be a resurrection of a new and improved Lear Fan! Hope springs eternal.

  8. Bombardier is a prime example of the failure of corporate governance. Over the years it received over $4 billion in government handouts. It embarked on building business jets, airliners and trains. It failed miserably in every business it touched. But it gets worse. Shortly after receiving a massive government injection of free money, the controlling family and its executives paid themselves US$32.6 million in bonuses and then laid off 14,500 workers. This obscenity belongs not only to Bombardier’s dual share structure, ensuring control to minority Beaudoin family shareholding, but also Canadian governments who sought votes by shoveling money into a Quebec business which was of dubious character.