Last month, the aviation community was buzzing about the Learjet 85 business jet from Bombardier Aerospace, as it made its first flight. Aviation enthusiasts, including this mil/aero geek, are still talking about Bombardier engineers’ novel approach to the aircraft’s design and development.
On 9 April 2014 at 8:19 am CST, the Learjet 85 flight test vehicle one (FTV1) took off from Wichita-Mid Continent International Airport with a crew that included Captain Ed Grabman, Chief Flight Test Pilot at the Bombardier Flight Test Center, Co-pilot Jim Dwyer, and Flight Test Engineer Nick Weyers. During its 2 hour and 15 minute maiden flight, the Learjet 85 aircraft reached an altitude of 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) and an air speed of 250 knots (463 km/h; 287 mph). The successful first flight, in which all flight controls were exercised and the systems and aircraft performed as expected, marked the start of the test program.
Tipping a hat to the Learjet heritage of more than 50 years, Bombardier Aerospace engineers and executives opted for a clean-sheet design with an eye toward high performance, advanced technology, and value. The Learjet 85 started with a clean slate onto which engineers incorporated a wealth of customer-requested features and an open architecture to enable the fast and easy integration of third-party equipment and applications—today and for the foreseeable future.
When speaking with today’s aerospace engineers and industry consultants, “clean sheet” and “open architecture” are among the hottest “buzzworthy” terms. Another hot buzzword? Digital. Modern aircraft not only feature digital, rather than analog, systems, but also are designed and developed digitally.