Learjet 85 parts to be produced in Mexico from November

By Brendan Sobie

Bombardier's Mexico facility is preparing to start producing parts for the all-composite Learjet 85 in November, two years ahead of the original schedule due to the transfer of prototype manufacturing from Grob Aerospace.

The vice-president of Bombardier's Mexico Manufacturing Centre, Real Gervais, says construction will begin in April on a new composites factory at Queretaro's aerospace park. The factory is scheduled to open in November with production of detailed parts. The new factory will be dedicated to composite structures for the Learjet 85 and will be next to the factory Bombardier opened last year, which produces wire harnesses and non-composite structures.

Last May Bombardier announced its fast-growing Queretaro operation would be responsible for all Learjet 85 midsize business jet manufacturing with final assembly at least initially taking place in Wichita. Gervais says Learjet 85 manufacturing was not originally going to begin in Mexico until 2011, but that changed in September when Bombardier terminated its contract with Grob to build at least the first three prototypes. The Queretaro facility was subsequently asked to produce the prototypes, using equipment which Gervais says has been purchased from Grob.

© Bombardier

To facilitate the early opening of the Learjet 85 factory in Queretaro, Gervais says 60-70 of Bombardier's Mexican employees are now in Montreal for composites training. He says the new composites plant will have about 600 employees within in two years.

Bombardier already has 1,200 employees in Queretaro and plans to raise that to about 2,000 by early 2011, including the 600 in the new factory. Gervais says final assembly of the Learjet 85 in Queretaro is a possibility for the future but is not in the current plan.

Queretaro undersecretary of economic development Marcelo Lopez, however, says "the target" is to move Learjet 85 final assembly from Wichita to Queretaro in 2012. He says Bombardier already has set aside land behind the new factory for hangars that would house the completed aircraft.

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