The “new” Learjet Liberty is a brand new plane, well, at least according to much of the hype surrounding its launch, but it’s not really new at all.
A follow-on offering of the Learjet 75, which was certificated in 2013, the $9.9 million Liberty is not a different plane in terms of its type certificate or its operating category…it remains, like every Lear since the Model 23, a part 25 Transport Category airplane, which means it operates under stricter limitations then Part 23 jets. The Cessna CJ3+, the Embraer Phenom 300 and the Pilatus PC-24 are all Part 23 airplanes, very capable ones at that, too. The biggest differences between the two categories, 23 and 25, arguably have to do with engine-out performance, with Part 25 aircraft needing better single-engine numbers.
In terms of practical considerations, it’s important to note that no Part 25 jet is single-pilot approved, so for the Learjet 75 Liberty, you’ll need a crew of two to fly it. The CJ3+, PC-24 and Phenom 300 are all single-pilot approved aircraft.
Despite the built-in limitations, the Lear 75 Liberty offers some intriguing possibilities. Most notably, the plane, like all Lears, is really fast. It is a light jet that can cruise at Mach .80, compared to the much slower Mach numbers for its kind of competitors. The CJ3+, for instance, cruises at around Mach .62. The Lear can also head up to 51,000 feet, an altitude that no light jet has ever approached before.
With six seats in the back, the Liberty is smaller than the plane from which it spun off. There are no structural changes, however, and if one wanted to buy a Learjet 75 non-Liberty version, you’d just have to add in the extra seats and other options, like an APU, that you wanted.
So will the Liberty make a dent in the overall modest light jet market? Probably not much of one, but it will provide a few would-be buyers with a new option, one that offers an impressive performance boost though with increased costs and complexities. Decisions, decisions.
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