Learjet 35 Review
When most people refer to business jets, they call them “Lear Jets,” no matter what they really are. The name Lear Jet has become as iconic as “Kleenex,” or “Piper Cub.” Lear represents and entire class of executive jet aircraft. The Learjet 35 is one of the most common and sought after models of this brand name.
The Bombardier Lear 35 business jet is a staple of the charter aircraft business. The Lear 35 is classified as a Light Jet and is most suitable for short, quick flights. It cruises at 510 mph, and it remains among the fastest aircraft in the Light Jet category. Pilots love this airplane and passengers love its speed, economy and “wow” factor.
The distinctive Lear design with its straight wings and tip tanks, makes an impressive statement on the ramp or runway. Its instant recognizable lines that make it the iconic “Lear Jet” help both give charter and corporate operators a certain aviation panache.
The Learjet 35 and 36 were developed and designed to be stretched, turbofan-powered descendants to the largest of the original turbojet-powered Learjets, the Model 25. The Garrett AiResearch TFE731-powered aircraft, which were introduced in the mid-1970s, are among the most popular light business jets ever built, and hundreds remain in service today.
Lear originally planned to add the quieter and more fuel-efficient TFE731 turbofans to the Learjet 25 to create the Learjet 26. But, the engine change made it necessary to alter the airframe, so a 13-inch plug was introduced in the forward fuselage, and the wings were extended two feet on each side.
A prototype of the Learjet 35 made its inaugural flight in August 1973, and the eight-passenger coast-to-coast jet won FAA certification in July 1974.
A Favorite of Pilots, Passengers and Operators
The Learjet 35 meets FAR part 36 noise standards, giving it a low impact footprint in terms of noise at airports. This lower noise profile makes it possible for the jet to fly into noise sensitive airports that other biz jets can’t use.
Flight crews are happy about the avionics system, which is completely modernized from previous models, giving pilots a well laid-out and uncluttered control panel that is easy to work with.
The real muscle and sex appeal of the Learjet 35 are its range, takeoff, and cruise abilities. Two Honeywell TFE731-2-2B engines provide 3,500 pounds of thrust, allowing the Lear 35 to take off in less than 5,000 feet.
Components of these engines have been used on much higher-performing jets. Their pressure compressors were taken from the Garret 660-series engine, which is most notably used on 747s. Fuel consumption using these engines is excellent: the Lear 35 burns 197 gallons of fuel per hour in cruise.
The maximum gross takeoff weight for this aircraft is 18,300 pounds. This heavier lift capability combined with a roomy baggage area of 40 cubic feet of storage space lets passengers carry business equipment and all the baggage they may need for a normal trip. The 35’s cargo hold is 12.9 feet long, 4.9 feet wide and 4.3 feet high and has room for roughly eight standard suitcases or an comparable combination of supplies and luggage.
The Interior and Creature Comforts
The Lear 35 can transport up to seven passengers in its cabin. While not the largest in the business jet world, the passenger area on this Light Jet is ergonomically designed and comfortable. Standard seating for six or seven people can be extended to eight, with an optional jump seat.
The cabin configuration offers two distinct seat groups, allowing for easy passenger interaction and conversation. Adjustable tables are available for eating, playing games and work. The quiet engines on this aircraft keep cabin ambient noise to a barely noticeable minimum, allowing for quiet conversations or important wheeling and dealing.
A Green Machine
The Honeywell turbofan engines provide high thrust, easy takeoff and low fuel burn, giving this Lear an economical and efficient profile. It has a maximum range of nearly 2000 statue miles, allowing it to complete most missions without fuel stops, which adds more efficiency and less operator and passenger hassles.
Numerous enhancements were made to this Lear during its long life. The first major change was the introduction in 1976 of the Learjet 35A and 36A, which included upgraded TFE731-2B engines, added fuel capacity, and longer range. The Century III wing modification package improved low-speed handling, reduced stall speeds, and shortened runway requirements came along a little later in the aircraft’s life. Almost all earlier models have been retrofitted with the Century III mod.
A few more modifications were added in 1979 to this Learjet. SoftFlite wing modification that further improved handling characteristics was developed that year. In addition, a mod to increase gross weight to 18,300 pounds and landing weight to 15,300 pounds was offered. These improvements also were available for retrofit.
A grand total of 737 Learjet 35/36s were built between 1973 and 1994, and 381 remain in the skies today. An early 1974 model Learjet 35 can cost as little as $400,000, while the asking price for a late-model (1993) Model 35A is about $1.6 million. Prices for Learjet 36s are slightly lower than Learjet 35s in the same model years.
Operating costs for charter and fractional operators fall in the middle of the Light Jet range. The Lear 35 has always been a steady workhorse for the industry and as it ages it is becoming a popular entry-level business jet.
Learjet 35 by the Numbers
- Engines | Two Garrett/AlliedSignal/Honeywell TFE731-2-2B turbofans, 3,500 pounds of thrust
- Seats | up to 8
- Max takeoff weight | 18,300 lbs
- Cruise speed | 440 knots
- Balanced field length | 4,224 feet
- Range (with IFR reserves) | 2,196 nautical miles
- Wingspan | 39 feet, 6 inches
- Length | 48 feet, 6 inches
- Height | 12 feet, 3 inches
Source: Learjet 35 Review | Jet Charter Blog
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