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Scrapping F-35 On Hold

F-35 mock-up in Canadian livery.
F-35 mock-up in Canadian livery.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will reportedly hold off on executing one of his key election campaign promises until after he’s checked with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Trudeau promised to immediately re-open bidding for the replacement of the RCAF’s aging CF-18 fleet if he won the election.

Now, he’s reportedly rethinking that stand in favour of discussing options with Obama, possibly next month in Turkey.

According to a Bloomberg report, Trudeau has apparently heard from the Obama administration about his F-35 posture and since one of his key goals is to repair tense relations with Washington, becoming the first country to drop out of the multi-national effort to develop the fifth generation fighter.

Although Canada is only on tap to buy 65 of the jets, the U.S. is anxious to avoid any kind of stampee for the door as the troubled program racks up development costs and misses performance milestones.

The tip of the hat to Washington means that any move toward an open bid will likely take well into the new year.

Meanwhile, aircraft builders shut out by Canada’s sole source deal with Lockheed Martin have been wearing out the carpet in front of the new government’s door, hoping to get a chance at a multi-billion dollar deal for new fighters.

Learjet 85 Canceled

Bombardier has officially canceled the Learjet 85
Bombardier has officially canceled the Learjet 85

Bombardier’s state-of-the-art Learjet 85 business jet is the latest casualty of the planemaker’s financial problems.

The company officially cancelled the mostly-composite mid-sized jet program last week before it got a $1 billion cash injection from the Quebec government. Bombardier had already “paused” the development of the aircraft as it grappled with a cash crunch related to its CSeries airliner project.

Introduced at the National Business Aviation Association convention in 2008, the Learjet 85 was touted as a state-of-the-art fly-by-wire aircraft with a longer range and greater speed than other aircraft of its size.

Although there haven’t been any composite competitors, other manufacturers have made it to market with equivalent aircraft as the Lear 85 suffered delays. Consequently, the market for the aircraft diminished and the financial case disappeared.

The abandonment of the program has revived speculation that Bombardier will sell its Learjet unit, likely to Textron, which builds Citation jets and King Air turboprops.

SAM For Sale

The assets of SAM Aircraft are for sale for $100,000.
The assets of SAM Aircraft are for sale for $100,000.

Montreal aircraft designer Thierry Zibi says he’s fire saling the assets of his SAM Aircraft to fund another venture.

The tenacious entrepreneur, who abandoned his successful corporate life in France, to live his dream as an aircraft designer in Quebec, got his retro-looking advanced ultralight approved four years ago, but sales were slow in the downturn.

The prototype, all the tooling, parts and intellectual property are available for $100,000. Zibi says the aircraft alone is worth $120,000.

As a start-up, it would take about $300,000 to get the aircraft into production, according to Zibi’s estimate. An established manufacturer could do it for less, he says.

Canadian Aviator flew the aircraft a couple of years ago and it had docile flight characteristics with nicely balanced controls and more solid feel than a lot of aircraft of its size.

SAM claimed the aircraft was spin proof, too.

Two Fatal Helicopter Crashes

Wreckage of a helicopter that crashed near Saskatoon. CBC Photo
Wreckage of a helicopter that crashed near Saskatoon.
CBC Photo

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating two fatal helicopter crashes in Saskatchewan last week.

Icing may have been to blame for the crash of a helicopter (type unknown) that went down near Kinley, Sask. Oct. 27. The pilot apparently reported “severe icing” before the aircraft disappeared from radar.

The unidentified pilot was from Calgary and was on his way home from Saskatoon.

In the other crash, two men were killed when their helicopter crashed on an island in the North Saskatchewan River in western Saskatchewan.

The two occupants of the aircraft, a 55-year-old male pilot from Campbell River, B.C. and a 30-year-old male passenger from Prince Albert, were reportedly doing power line maintenance when the accident occurred.