The agreement with Bombardier Learjet represents the largest single NIAR industry contract in Wichita State history, according to university president Don Beggs.
Launched on Oct. 30, 2007, the new Learjet 85 will be the first Learjet to feature an all-composite structure and will be the first all-composite structure business jet designed for type certification under FAA FAR Part 25. David Coleal, Bombardier Learjet's vice president and general manager, said, "This will be the largest, fastest Learjet ever built. We're very fortunate to have one of the nation's leading composite centers here at Wichita State to work with us on this innovative project."
On Sept. 17, 2008, Learjet announced it would assume complete responsibility for the detail design and manufacturing of all primary and secondary structures for Learjet 85 aircraft, with much of this work to occur in Wichita.
As the lead institution in the FAA's Center of Excellence for Composites and Advanced Materials, NIAR performs a large majority of the FAA's composite research and has worked with numerous aircraft manufacturers to develop efficient composite materials. NIAR is also the headquarters for the NASA National Center for Advanced Materials Performance (NCAMP). In addition to utilizing NIAR's experienced Composites Laboratory, the Learjet 85 aircraft's certification process will also involve NIAR's Full-Scale Structural Testing Laboratory. NIAR's 16 laboratories, which focus primarily on airframe technology, employ nearly 200 full-time research scientists and engineers and 150 part-time laboratory technicians.