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NIAR partners with Learjet for material and structural testing for Bombardier Learjet 85 development

The National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University has entered into a relationship with Learjet to provide material and structural testing and certification for the new Learjet 85* midsize business jet. Through a long-term contract, NIAR will be involved in the FAA certification of the aircraft from the testing of coupon samples to the structural certification of full-scale components.  

The agreement with Bombardier Learjet represents the largest single NIAR industry contract in Wichita State history, according to President Don Beggs.  

Launched on October 30, 2007, the new Learjet 85 aircraft 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 U.S. Federal Aviation Administration 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 September 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.

"Learjet has long been a supporter of technology advancements within NIAR", said Ralph Acs, Vice President, Learjet 85. "This new partnership will strengthen this relationship and supports the plan to make the Learjet 85 a technologically advanced aircraft."

Learjet is a core member of NIAR's Industry Advisory Council. The council, made up of the vice presidents of engineering at Learjet, Boeing IDS, Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft, and Spirit AeroSystems, provides input and feedback on the research focus and laboratory capabilities at NIAR.

"It's good to see these companies benefit directly from NIAR's technology," said Dr. John Tomblin, NIAR Executive Director. "The laboratory capabilities that Learjet has helped establish will be used for the advancement of this new aircraft."

NIAR is well-known for its composite material research and certification capabilities. The Composites and Advanced Materials Laboratory is the institute's largest lab in terms of staffing, capability and investments/expenditures. The lab specializes in developing low-cost manufacturing processes while providing thermal, mechanical and analyses tools.

"I'm delighted Bombardier Learjet has selected NIAR as a key partner in the development of its new business jet," said Beggs. "It's a tribute to the outstanding scientists, engineers and technicians at NIAR, who are among the best in the world."

"This is outstanding recognition of the Wichita State model of developing research and testing capabilities directly in response to current and anticipated industry and government needs," said WSU Provost Gary Miller.

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 whose staff is the most qualified in aviation industry, with more than 400 years of combined testing experience with unique experience in the certification of composite aircraft.

NIAR's 16 laboratories, which focus primarily on airframe technology, occupy more than 150,000 square feet of lab space and employ nearly 200 full-time research scientists and engineers and 150 part-time laboratory technicians.

"With their unique skill-set and history involving composite material placement into aircraft production, NIAR was a natural choice for Learjet 85 material development program," said Acs.

"This relationship provides a unique opportunity to utilize many of NIAR's research capabilities in one extensive program," Tomblin said. "We look forward to using this advantage to help develop the Learjet 85 as one of the most efficient and innovative new business jets."

Press release issued by National Institute for Aviation Research on February 6, 2009


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National Institute for Aviation Research Certification Services, Fatigue Testing, Computer-aided Testing, Prototyping, Computer-aided Analysis, Aerodynamic Test Services, Composite Testing Services, Corrosion Testing Services, Fracture Testing Services, Non-Destructive Testing, Inspection Service, Electromagnetic Test Services, Environmental Testing Services, Stress Analysis


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