Aircraft Comparative Analysis - Learjet 45XR
Category: Corporate Aircraft – Comparative Analysis
Author: Mike Chase
Bombardier Learjet 45XR
On this month’s Aircraft Comparative Analysis, we’ll provide information on Bombardier’s Learjet 45XR. We’ll consider some of the productivity parameters including payload, range, speed and cabin size, along with current market value. The field of study includes Cessna’s Citation XLS+.
The Learjet 45 was an all-new business aircraft manufactured between 1997 and 2007, and is built to combine the efficiency and price of a light jet with the interior space and range of a medium jet. It features advanced Honeywell Primus 1000 avionics systems and lower maintenance costs (through longer inspection intervals). This aircraft is RVSM ready.
The Learjet 45XR is an enhanced performance Learjet 45 that was introduced in 2003 and is still in production today. It offers higher take-off weights, a faster cruise speed and a faster time-to-climb rate compared to the original Learjet 45. The Honeywell TFE 731-20BR powered Learjet 45XR is also designed to provide better hot and high performance, has an increased range, and an increased payload and take-off weight.
A Learjet 45XR upgrade package is available to Learjet 45 operators through engine and airframe service bulletins. Since 1997, there have been 426 total Learjet 45/45XR aircraft delivered to the business jet marketplace.
Chart A represents the in-operation aircraft Market Share as of February 2012 for the Learjet 45XR (66%) and Citation XLS+ (34%). There are currently 279 total aircraft in operation for these two models. Also depicted, when you combine the Learjet 45 and 45XR and the original Citation XLS with the current XLS+, the Market Share percentage is nearly the same.
PAYLOAD & RANGE
The data contained in Table A is published in the B&CA, May 2011 issue, but is also sourced from Conklin & de Decker. As we have mentioned in past articles, a potential operator should focus on payload capability as a key factor. The Learjet 45XR ‘Available payload with Maximum Fuel’ at 1,544 pounds is greater than the Citation XLS+ at 860 pounds of payload capability.
According to Conklin & de Decker, the cabin volume of the Learjet 45XR (at 410 cubic feet) is 11.1% smaller than the Citation XLS+ at 461 cubic feet, as shown in Chart B.
As mentioned previously, the Learjet 45XR is powered by two Honeywell TFE 731-20BR engines, each with a thrust rating of 3,500 pounds. The Citation XLS+ is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW545C engines each offering a thrust rating of 4,119 pounds.
COST PER MILE COMPARISONS
Using data published in the May 2011 B&CA Planning and Purchasing Handbook and the August 2011 B&CA Operations Planning Guide we will compare these aircraft. The nationwide average Jet-A fuel cost used from the August 2011 edition was $6.04 per gallon at press time, so for the sake of comparison we’ll chart the numbers as published.
Note: Fuel price used from this source does not represent an average price for the year.
Chart C details ‘Cost per Mile’ and compares the Learjet 45XR to the Citation XLS+ factoring direct costs, and with each aircraft flying a 1,000nm mission with 800 pounds (four passengers) payload. The Citation XLS+ cost at $4.10 per nautical mile is greater by $0.63 than the Learjet 45XR at $3.47.
TOTAL VARIABLE COST COMPARISONS
The “Total Variable Cost”, illustrated in Chart D, is defined as the cost of Fuel Expense, Maintenance Labor Expense, Scheduled Parts Expense and Miscellaneous trip expense. The total variable cost for the Citation XLS+ at $1,769 has a 12.2% higher variable cost per hour compared to the Learjet 45XR at $1,576.
The points in Chart E center on the same business jets. Pricing used in the vertical axis is as published in the B&CA 2011 Purchase Planning Handbook. The productivity index requires further discussion in that the factors used can be somewhat arbitrary. Productivity can be defined (and it is here) as the multiple of three factors.
1. Range with full payload and available fuel;
2. The long-range cruise speed flown to achieve that range;
3. The cabin volume available for passengers and amenities.
The result is a very large number so for the purpose of charting, each result is divided by one billion. The examples plotted are confined to the aircraft in this study. A computed curve fit on this plot would not be very tight, but when all business jets are considered the “r” squared factor would equal a number above 0.9. Others may choose different parameters, but serious business jet buyers are usually impressed with price, range, speed and cabin size.
After consideration of the Price, Range, Speed and Cabin Size we can conclude that the Learjet 45XR aircraft, as shown in the productivity index is highly productive and has improved in terms of its productivity significantly when compared with the original Learjet 45.
Table B is the average pre-owned retail price from Vref for each aircraft with the latest model produced. The last two columns of information show the number of aircraft in-operation, and the percentage ‘For Sale’ (details sourced from JETNET). Interestingly, while at 10.2% of the active fleet for sale the Learjet 45XR is hovering close to becoming a seller’s market (traditionally measured at 10% of the fleet on the market), the Citation XLS+ is a seller’s market at 5.3% fleet for sale.
The airport performance illustrated in Table C includes airport landing and take-off field length (TOFL).
LOCATION BY CONTINENT
Table D shows the location, by continent, for the Wholly-Owned Learjet 45XR business jet. North America has the majority with 75.6% of the fleet followed by South America at 9.9% and Europe at 8.7%. Currently only five Learjet 45XR aircraft are in shared, and eight in fractional-ownership arrangements.
Within the preceding paragraphs we have touched upon several of the key attributes that business jet operators value. However, there are often other qualities such as service and support that factor in a buying decision but are beyond the scope of this article.
The Learjet 45XR business jet fares well alongside its competition, but classically exhibits both advantages and disadvantages. As with all buying decisions, some advantages will weigh more heavily in a prospective buyer’s mind than others, depending on the mission requirement - so those operators in the market should find the preceding comparison of value.
Our expectations are that the Learjet 45XR business jet will continue to do very well in the pre-owned market for the foreseeable future.
For more information: Michael Chase is president of Chase & Associates, and can be contacted at 1628 Snowmass Place, Lewisville, TX 75077; Tel: 214-226-9882; Web: www.mdchase.com
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