When it comes to capturing the desires of the American executive business class, look no further than the ever-changing and adapting fleet of Learjet mid-sized business jets. Learjet was one of the first companies to manufacture private, luxury aircraft with a design based on an experimental American military aircraft known as the Marvel. However, that design was scrapped, and the final design was adapted from a 1950s Swiss fighter aircraft. 1
Bombardier purchased Canadian-owned American aerospace manufacturer Learjet in 1990 and began marketing it as the Bombardier Learjet Family.
Upon acquisition, the company immediately took on some of the consumer concerns about the Learjet Model 55. Those concerns being a cramped cabin, insufficient power for some operations, undersized brakes, and limited range. By 1993, the company answered with the Learjet 60.2
Bombardier’s Learjet 60 is a mid-sized jet with one and a half cabin zones and a range of 2,180 nautical miles at a maximum cruising speed of 460. These jets were produced from 1991 – 2006, and the company manufactured around 318. The Learjet 60 received FAA certification in January 1993. 3
Like its mid-sized competitors, the Cessna/Textron XLS and the Gulfstream G150, the Learjet 60 boasts two Pratt & Whitney PW305A engines and can seat up to seven passengers comfortably. Its takeoff distance is slightly longer than others in the class at 5,920 feet though it features a comparable landing distance of 3,120 feet. 3
When it comes to climbing power, the Learjet 60 is best-in-class. While the jet weighs in at 23,500 pounds, the PW305A engines each give 4,600 pounds of thrust, one of the highest thrust-to-weight ratios in the mid-sized class. The Learjet 60 will climb to a full 41,000 feet from sea level in less than 20 minutes.3
Fuel consumption comes in at 240 gallons per hour with fuel costs of approximately $1,200 (based on a price of $5.00 per gallon). Hourly maintenance rates hit the mid-range for the class size at $355. 3
The Learjet 60 is based on the Learjet 55 model with such modifications as a 43-inch fuselage and an 18-inch-longer cabin with more legroom. Many of these upgrades to the Learjet 60 resulted from an aerodynamics improvement program and a need to increase the line’s capacity. Some improvements were a first for Learjet, including an inboard wing cuff added to the inboard sections of the “Longhorn” wing and an all-new wing-to-body fairing.3
The Learjet Model 55 was produced beginning in 1980, and approximately 147 jets were manufactured. The Model 55 used the wing of the Learjet 28/29 Longhorn with a Model 35 fuselage. 3
Another design incorporated into the Learjet 60 adapted initially from the Learjet 55 model is smaller brakes and tires. While these small brakes and tires can offer a challenge to landing, the Learjet 60’s small brake and tire size are not an issue when flown according to instructions. This is because of the thrust reversers attached to the jet’s engines. After landing, these thrust reversers can take over, slowing down the jet quickly. 3
Additional aerodynamic upgrades made to the Learjet 60 included its unique winglet trailing edge resulting in a significant lowering of drag and improvement of the wing’s efficiency. 3
Spacious Best-in-Class Cabin
Learjet understands that cabin amenities are of the utmost importance to executive travelers, and they answered that call with a spacious, best-in-class cabin upgrade on the Learjet 60 and 60XR. The Learjet has a cabin height of 5.80 feet with a width of 5.90 feet. Its aisle length is a full 17.70 feet adding additional legroom for comfort. The Learjet 60’s standard layout features five single executive/swivel seats, a two-place side-facing divan opposite the entry door, a small forward galley with a microwave and ice drawer, a forward closet, and a rear restroom.4
The Learjet 60 cabin includes a closet with 24 cubic feet of storage, with an equal amount in the baggage compartment near the restroom. Cabin noise near the entry door can be an issue which Learjet paid close attention to alleviating when upgrading the Learjet 60 to the Learjet 60XR model. 3
Owning and Operating Costs
Of course, owning and operating costs are always a concern for fleet owner/operators. Annual fixed costs for Learjet 60 owner/operators are comparable to others in the class, with an annual amount of approximately $552,000. Total operating costs average out to approximately $4,670 per hour based on a 300-hour annual utilization. 5
Learjet 60’s two Pratt & Whitney PW305A engines run at an hourly rate of $379 per engine with an overhaul interval of 5,000 hours. However, TBO extensions are available through Pratt & Whitney if operators meet certain requirements.
The Learjet 60 uses the Pro Line 4 as its standard avionics suite. This avionics suite has proven quite reliable and durable. 3
Showing adaptability and an ever-present desire to increase consumer satisfaction, Learjet’s answer to owner/operator concerns on the Learjet 60 was the Learjet 60XR. The Learjet 60XR is the top of the line of Learjet 60 models following the Learjet 60SE, which replaced the Learjet 60 in 2004. The SE added comfort, design, and technical amenities such as plated trim, wood veneer, upgraded carpeting, a 10-disc CD and DVD system with a 15.1-inch forward cabin monitor, a traffic-collision-avoidance system, and an auxiliary power unit that allowed the cabin to be heated or cooled and powered before starting the main engines.5
While the SE was a welcome upgrade from the Learjet 60, the upgraded interior wasn’t enough for owners flying longer distances requiring more in-cabin stowage space, a larger galley, an airier feeling and lighter cabin, and more room for passengers. Thus, Bombardier announced the Learjet 60XR.5
The 60XR is a mid-sized jet outfitted with one and a half cabin zones and a range of 2,040 nautical miles. Bombardier produced 114 Learjet 60XRs from 2007 – 2013. In July 2012, Bombardier announced a production pause of the Learjet 60XR. 6
Like its predecessor, the Learjet 60, the 60XR model also features two Pratt & Whitney PW305A turbofan engines instead of General Electric engines. The PW305A engines each offer 4,600 pounds of thrust and use 204 gallons of fuel per hour. The range of the Learjet 60XR is 2,294 nautical miles operating under NBAA IFR 4 passengers with available fuel.
To enhance safety, performance, and pilot operation, the Learjet 60XR’s avionics suite was upgraded from the Learjet 60 model to a Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 suite, replacing the Pro Line 4. The Pro Line 21 is a fully integrative avionics system with key upgrades, including decreased weight, a 75% larger display area featuring four 8 x 10-inch screens, higher reliability, and more capabilities. The Flight Management Systems interface includes electronic charting features and makes operating the Learjet 60XR easier and more efficient.6
Standard pilot and copilot primary flight displays are paired with two central multi-function displays, Collins Aerospace FMS-5000 Flight Management System, and dual radio tuning units to streamline and automate input functions. This gives a better overall view of the flight situation. 7
Automated maintenance diagnostics and electronic checklist functions are standard on the Learjet 60XR. These features streamline and simplify flight deck performance while also enhancing safety. 7
Take-off and landing distance, two of the selling points of the original Learjet 60, are improved as well, with a take-off distance of 5,450 feet and a landing distance of 3,049 feet. The Learjet 60XR’s operating altitude improves on the Learjet 60 and reaches 51,000 feet. 6
Remarkable Cabin Improvements
Consumers in the mid-sized business jet market want a comfortable cabin that will welcome them and offer ease of work while flying regionally or across the country. To that end, Bombardier made some marked improvements on the Learjet 60XR’s cabin. The cabin volume of the Learjet 60XR is more space-efficient than the Learjet 60 with 447 cubic feet of room. The cabin measures 5.7 feet high, 5.9 feet wide, and 17.7 feet long for comfort and amenities. This space easily accommodates six passengers: a four-seat club and two additional, forward-facing seats. 5
Comparable to competitors, the Learjet 60XR’s interior space is three inches wider and 43 inches longer than the Learjet 55 model.
Design improvements include a 43-inch fuselage stretch, increasing cabin volume by 11% over the Learjet 55 model, a digital steer-by-wire nosewheel, and an electrically heated windshield. A larger galley includes updated cabinets, an increased baggage area of 59 cubic feet, five unique floorplans, and the addition of a cabin management system featuring control modules and electronic power ports round out the sound upgrades of the Learjet 60XR. 5
The improved galley has been relocated to the left of the cabin next to the passenger door conveying a more spacious atmosphere and lengthier appearance. It also aids in improving cabin noise, which is reduced by several decibels over the Learjet 60. The galley tower includes hot-liquid containers and glassware and provides 6.5 more inches of workspace with natural lighting with an over-the-counter window.
The Learjet 60XR’s cabin management system boasts more user-friendly menus than the Learjet 60 model and features inputs for iPods and other electronics, such as laptops and DVD players. Passengers can enjoy communications options like Iridium satellite phones, the Airshow 410 or 4000 moving map and flight information system with network package, a 15.1-inch forward monitor, a 10.4-inch aft monitor, passenger audiovisual inputs, and XM satellite radio.5
Compared to competitors like the Citation XLS, Gulfstream G150, and Hawker 800XP, the Learjet 60XR stacks up nicely. Its flight time is right in line with its competitors and even offers a faster cruise speed than the Hawker 800XP or the Citation XLS. The mid-sized Learjet 60XR boasts a longer maximum range in miles than the Citation XLS, and also offers a larger baggage volume in cubic feet than the Hawker 800XP.
Owning and Operating Costs
As far as operating costs, 60XR hourly engine costs and overhaul interval hours are the same as the Learjet 60 model. Combined variable and fixed costs are comparable to the Learjet 60 as well.
There are currently said to be 111 Learjet 60XR jets in operation today. These are mostly owned outright with just 4% leased. The United States has the largest percentage of Learjet 60XR jets, followed by Mexico and Argentina. When for sale, the average number of days the jet remains on the market is 375.8
It was announced that Bombardier ended production of Learjet in February 2021. However, the manufacturer will continue to service and support the fleet due to its popularity and longevity.
Learjet 60 Performance Snapshot3
Learjet 60 Dimensions:4
Learjet 60XR Performance Snapshot: 9
Learjet 60XR Dimensions: 9
Cabin Dimension: 9
5 Conklin & deDecker Aircraft Cost Evaluator
8 Jetnet, LLC