Bombardier Aerospace celebrates Learjet's 40th anniversary in the Middle East

A milestone year for the first name in corporate aviation

The manufacturer of Learjet* aircraft, Bombardier Aerospace, today celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Learjet business jet during a ceremony at the Dubai Air Show at Dubai International Airport. The first aircraft, Learjet 23 s/n 001, took off in Wichita, Kansas, on October 7, 1963, an event that launched the legendary Learjet product line and sparked a revolution in business jet aviation.

Since the first Learjet flight, more than 2,300 Bombardier Learjet aircraft have been delivered worldwide. The first Learjet aircraft in the Middle East – a Model 35A – was delivered to Arab Wings in 1976. Since that time, the Bombardier Learjet family’s popularity in the Middle East has been driven by its speed, agility, and ability to access small airstrips – features that make it ideally suited to the region. Today, 15 Bombardier Learjet aircraft operate in the Middle East, and are gaining popularity for local and regional charter operations.

“Bombardier continues to develop new high-performance aircraft to suit the Middle East market,” said Peter Edwards, president, Bombardier Business Aircraft, speaking at the Learjet 40th Anniversary celebration. “For example, the new Learjet 45 XR, an enhanced version of the Learjet 45, delivers superior performance under hot and high conditions, improved payload-range capabilities, higher cruise speeds and faster time to climb.”

The Learjet 45 XR super-light business jet makes its Middle East debut at the Dubai Air Show this week.

A proud history

The first Learjet was a watershed invention for business travelers. Until Bill Lear designed and built a jet airplane specifically for business use, corporate travelers either had to fly modified military aircraft, fly with commercial airlines, or use small slow, noisy, piston- and turbine-propelled planes. The Learjet 23 changed all of that, in spectacular fashion, by effectively launching business jet aviation.

Following the momentous first flight, the Bombardier Learjet family of business jets has continued to break new ground through constant innovation and performance enhancements. Bombardier Learjet aircraft have set numerous world records, both for speed and altitude performance, and set the standard in their respective segments for cabin comfort.

Learjet Inc., founded by noted inventor and entrepreneur William Powell Lear, began operations in Wichita, Kansas in 1962. Mr. Lear, who already held patents for numerous innovative products, including AC-DC converters, car and aircraft radios, an autopilot, the Lear-O-Scope aircraft direction finder, and an eight-track stereo tape system, invested $12 million U.S., to develop a personal business jet based on the Swiss P-16 fighter.

Manufacturing began in a plant adjacent to Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport at the end of 1962 and a decision to skip the prototype stage and go directly into production tooling allowed the first flight of the Learjet 23 to take place less than a year later. The aircraft was certified on July 31, 1964, and the first production model, s/n 003, was delivered to the Chemical Industrial Corporation of Cincinnati, Ohio, less than three months later. More than 100 Learjet aircraft were introduced into service in the company’s first three years alone.

Bombardier Inc. acquired Learjet on June 29, 1990 and immediately began to infuse new energy and resources into product development. Bombardier has launched five new Learjet aircraft since that time – the Learjet 31A, the Learjet 60, the Learjet 45, the Learjet 45 XR and the Learjet 40.

The Bombardier Learjet 45 has become one of the top-selling business aircraft models in its class and the first business jet to receive type certification from the European Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA). The new Bombardier Learjet 40 and 45 XR business jets were introduced at the 2002 Farnborough Air Show and represent the latest step in the Learjet family’s evolution.

Bombardier Aerospace, a unit of Bombardier Inc., is a world leader in the design and manufacture of innovative aviation products and provides services for the regional, business and amphibious aircraft markets. It also offers Bombardier Flexjet* and Bombardier Skyjet* business aircraft programs, technical services, and aircraft maintenance and pilot training for business, regional airline and military customers.

Bombardier Inc., a diversified manufacturing and services company, is a world-leading manufacturer of business jets, regional aircraft, rail transportation equipment and motorized recreational products. It also provides financial services and asset management in business areas aligned with its core expertise. Headquartered in Montréal, Canada, the Corporation has a workforce of some 75,000 people and manufacturing facilities in 25 countries throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Its revenues for the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2003 stood at $23.7 billion Cdn. Bombardier shares are traded on the Toronto, Brussels and Frankfurt stock exchanges (BBD, BOM and BBDd.F).

* Trademarks of Bombardier Inc. or its subsidiaries.

Leo Knaapen
Bombardier Aerospace
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