Bombardier Aerospace will build a new Learjet model for the midsize business jet market, the company announced last week, but officials provided few details about the new airplane.
While most business jet manufacturers make a major production out of launching a new airplane, Bombardier´s five-paragraph announcement was largely devoid of fanfare. The Learjet NXT will be a clean-sheet design, Bombardier said, with a high-speed cruise of Mach 0.82 and a range of up to 3,000 nautical miles. "Designed to provide a larger, more comfortable cabin than any existing midsize aircraft, this jet will offer eight passengers a stand-up cabin built to ensure superior productivity and comfort," according to the press release.
Pierre Cote, president of Bombardier Business Aircraft, said the NXT design "is customer-driven, based on what they have told us they need and want in a new midsize category business jet." He said the company has received "in excess of 65 letters of intent (LOIs) for this aircraft, which we expect to successfully convert into firm orders over the coming months."
Asked why Bombardier did not announce the NXT at the National Business Aviation Association convention in late September, a Bombardier spokeswoman told BA Friday that the company was still talking with customers and collecting LOIs from them at that point. Now that the company has reached its LOI goal, Bombardier decided to formally announce the program. She said the manufacturer is still negotiating with a number of potential partners, adding that formal announcements about major systems and component providers could come early next year.
There has been early speculation that the NXT will be a largely composite aircraft. Asked about those rumors, the Bombardier spokeswoman would say only that the NXT will have a combination of old and new technologies, adding that for competitive reasons Bombardier is not providing further details at this time.
It is expected that the NXT will fit between the $13.3 million Learjet 60XR and the $20 million Challenger 300 in the Bombardier product line.