Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Friendliest aviation Ccmmunity on the web
  • Modern site for PC's, Phones, Tablets - no 3rd party apps required
  • Ask questions, help others, promote aviation
  • Share the passion for aviation
  • Invite everyone to Flightinfo.com and let's have fun

Lear Drivers

Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Modern secure site, no 3rd party apps required
  • Invite your friends
  • Share the passion of aviation
  • Friendliest aviation community on the web


just a member, not senior
Nov 26, 2001
I have a business partner that is looking into buying a lear 24 or lear 25. I told him I would try to get some info for him. Looking for payloads, take off and landing dist., range, and most importantly, maint. intervals and cost associated with operation.

Also, he is looking to spend about $1 mil, so if there are any better aircraft for business puposes that anyone would recommend I would appreciate it.

Thanks in advanced.
It depends on what sort of distances he will be traveling. The Lear is built for speed, but that will help only on long legs. On one occasion, our Lear and King Air were going to the same destination about 200 miles away. The Lear left first and got there only about 12 minutes before the KA. At the time, the Lear was going for $1800/hour, while the KA was chartering for $750/hour.

On mid-range flights, I'd imagine a Citation would win an operational cost competition, while giving up very little in the way of time enroute.

Long-range flights are where the Lear is going to save time and money, flying at FL450 and around .82 mach.

I'm a big fan of the Lear, but only because I've never had to pay for operating one. If I were an investor, I'd take a look at my needs and give strong consideration to a Cessna. At least tell him to look at the Lear 35 (bypass engines, longer range).

I have no idea what you can get for $1M as I've never had to worry about such a purchase! I suggest finding a reputable broker in your area and get some help.
For a cool million he really should look at something else. You can buy a Lear 24 or 25 for about that price but, like all airplanes, the buying price is only the beginning of the financial commitment. 20 series Lears are not cheap to operate - parts and most of all gas!!!!! If your friend is just moving around a relatively small area (2 states or so) I'd look at King Airs or maybe an older Citation I or II. What part of the country are you in? Drop me a private message and I may be able to point you towards a broker.
He is in Cali. He has a broker trying to sell him on a lear now. He called me asking questions but I don't have jet experience so I wasn't much help.

I asked him about a King Air, but is set on a jet. I think the ego is taking over.

He does business on the East Coast and goes down to the Islands once or twice a year, so his range need is pretty large.

Apparently he has a friend that is a lear driver and he will be his part time pilot. SO, he probably has a broker and a pilot friend pushing the lear.
Aero99, you really need to get a handle on what the needs are. IF this is this person's first time operating a jet aircraft, you want it to be a good experience, or it'll be their last time.

As the previous posters mentioned, the Citation 500 series will win the operating cost battle. As of right now, there are approximately 150 C550's for sale. Truly a buyers market.

I have experience in the 30 series lears, citations and the falcon 10. For the money, you can't go faster than the 10. And decent planes are out there.

Get a handle on what the needs are first, then you can narrow your choices.
The 20 series lears can be had for a song right now. Fuel is expensive; they drink it fast just as they fly fast. Range is short. Performance is outstanding, but you pay for it in fuel burn.

As the 20 series lears age, the cost of parts is increasing, and they are becoming harder to get. CJ610 engines are no longer as plentiful as they were, and the parts are still going up in cost.

The lear is a very straight forward airplane. The systems are straight forward. It's not hard to work on.

The 20 series lear can get away from a pilot faster than most other light jets. I've seen it happen with otherwise fairly competent pilots before, and I was surprised at the speed with which they fell behind the airplane once things turned sour. This happens to a greater degree, and much faster than most other light jets. The 20 series aren't particularly hard to fly, but once a pilot falls behind, he's in a world of hurt.

A variety of older jets are available on the market right now. Sabreliners are still popular in that neck of the woods, but I wouldn't recommend one (based on personal experience flying them, and maintaining them). Several folks indicated the 35 series Lear as a good option; for the cost it's and the location, as well as the necessary range, it's probably one of the better options. Good luck!
You're pretty much on the mark in looking at a lear 20 series in California. Operationally the citation line will be less expensive to operate, however, you can't make much money chartering a 500 or 550 in the California area.( assuming you want to put the aircraft on a 135 certificate to be used when the owner is not using it. This is a common method of making the aircraft work for the owner.) A 560 is out of the price range. A lear 25 would be the best choice, considering you can't get a non-stop X-country jet for a million bucks. A 25 will also give you added value in that it's a popular charter aircraft in the California area. There are six charter operators alone at VNY that use the 20 series lear. If you put the aircraft on an established lear operator's certificate you can eliminate the pains of maintenance because you'll be dealing with a company that has maintained lears for years.
Like others have said, when getting into the turbine market, buying the a/c is really the least expensive part of the deal. Some prospective owners will pick up a Trade a Plane and say " I can afford that for 900,000 " but is he/she willing to pony up another 600,000 to 700,000 per year (depending on utilization) to run it?
For example, you can go out and buy an 11 year old King Air 200 for about 2 mil. OK, owner can afford it, but to run it 450 hours a year it's going to take a little over 500,000 in expenses to do it. That includes direct and fixed cost, and no depreciation in the value of the asset. It also does not take into consideration the tax benifit of owning the plane, which is why most people do it.
A good source of info is Conklin de Decker. Go to www.aso.com and click the Conklin de Decker aircraft cost performance logo. You may have to adjust the numbers for your operation, but this sounds like what you're looking for.
The plane you get should be based on what you are going to do with it 85% of the time, and not to service a few trips a year. Hope this helps.
I've been flying Learjets for 3 years now, here's my opinion, in no particular order:

The suitability of a Learjet depends on your friends planned usage. The 25 is not stage III compliant, and as such is somewhat airport limited, especially in California.

The Charter market at VNY is extaordinarily competetive, with not much room for a new operator. You would be underbid like you can't believe.

Learjets should be professionally flown. (read Flight Safety or Simuflite current Captain AND F.O.) Is your friend prepared to pay for this? If not is he prepared to pay much higher insurance premiums? I'm assuming you are looking to get in on a bit of the flying that may ensue. If so, a King Air or Citation would do much more for your airmanship and abilities. The workload in Lear is sufficiently rushed that it's not the best first jet for a GA driver. (I'm not being concieted here, just an observation based on watching First Officers learning to cope with the environment. The GA only types typically take months to be able to even fly a PAX leg smoothly.) You honestly are not safe being flown around by some crusty old guy with lots of Lear time who hasn't seen the inside of a sim in 15 years. (assisted by some eager youngster with no training at all.)

Fuel burn the first hour is around 330 gallons. 270 the second, and 225 the third. Then you land. I honestly don't know what the range is, the 25 is, at best, a three hour airplane. (430 KTAS) Range is totally dependant on what altitude you fly at, and what the winds are doing. The longest leg I ever did was RIC-HOU.

The easist way to make money right now with a 25 is by providing air-ambulance.

A 35 will be much more viable and attractive as a charter aircraft. I can't imagine a profitable 135 operator looking for a 25 lease. Of course, I could be wrong.

25's are pretty reliable A/C, but they'll eat you alive when it's time to fix one. Ours were costing us a fortune before we sold them.

If you can find it, Richard Collins wrote an excellent article about the pros and cons of 20 series ownership in FLYING. About 10-12 years ago if memory serves me right.

Best of luck, if you have any questions drop me a line.
Thanks for all the input. I figured I could get some good info from here.

I'm going to cut and past your responses and fire them off to my partner.

ljdrvr- I only wish he would give me a chance to sit right seat and play with the radios if he buys. I probably have a better chance of winning the lotto.

Keep it safe.

"to go up pull back, to go down, keep pullin back...
Lot's of time in Lear 23,24,25, the 24B with a straight wing is my baby. Flown in Colombia and all over, give me specific's and I'll give you some detailed info. both operational and cost of maintenance, etc. The Lear is still the best bang for the buck when it comes to jets.
Hey Aero99

If you're in California and your boss wants to fly to the east coast and/or islands, the Lear may be your plane - I would choose it over the Citation. As hawkerjet pointed out, no plane in this price range will get you coast to coast in either direction, but in my experience you’ll save a fuel stop (and several hours) over the C-550 with the Lear. I’ve flown the –20s a lot, the –35 and –55 a little, and the C-550 only a few times, so most of what I know is about the –20s; hopefully someone else will give you a better profile on the C-550.

Heading west would normally require two fuel stops in the Lear, depending on the jetstream; while the C-550 has better economy in still air, it’s significantly lower airspeed and ceiling will kill it heading west, and it will need at least one more stop – one of our owners used to fly his C-550 from NYC to SFO regularly and sometimes made four stops in the winter. His crew used to figure on arriving 10-12 hours after departure – which is an awful long time to spend in a cabin that size with his family - a year of this was enough to convince that owner to move up to a Falcon. The C-550 will generally carry more people, by the way – ours was configured for eight, versus six-seven in the –25 and four-five in the –24.

What the others have said is true up to a point – the acquisition cost of a Lear 20 will be low, but the operating cost will be high relative to other similar-sized airframes. We went shopping for a –24 about two years ago and $1,000,000 is probably still a workable number – the –25s were going for more because they’re larger. They do use more fuel than a -35 – that’s a tradeoff; but if you’re not planning on holding to the plane for more than a couple of years, you will still come out way ahead overall by going with the –20. As far as maintenance costs go, ours were negligible except at the beginning when we had to make up for some neglect by previous owners – but that will be true with most airplanes. Other than that, though, it was very reliable with no significant repairs other than an avionics upgrade; we were never AOG.

Hawkerjet brought up a good point. If you’re in SoCal, you’re in a Lear-20 hotbed – especially around Van Nuys. That’s where we ended up concentrating our search after finding most of the better airframes on the market were in that area; there are also a lot in Texas, but a lot of those have been used as freighters and are “tired”. Parts availability should be good out on the coast. The Navy is retiring the last of their CJ-610-powered airplanes, so there ought to actually be better parts availability than in years past; and some older –20 series airframes are being parted out. There’s also a strong market for the planes south of the border, where noise isn’t a concern, so the parts market is still strong.

These are “hot” planes. Contrary to their reputation, they’re not particularly fast in cruise - but they excel in acceleration and climb, because of their raw power. The thrust-to-weight ratio approaches 1:2 at lighter weights – nothing else non-military matches that. But because of their power they can really get away from a pilot – the “no-win’ scenario is a thrust reverser deployment at rotation, which is almost unrecoverable. It’s really not a plane for beginners. While it is a relatively simple airplane (Bill lear actually tried to get the -23 certified single pilot!), if you get into a –20, you really must go to sim training (which may be down to just FSI in Wichita now).

Another issue you’ll have with the –20 series Lears is noise – the CJ-610 can turn fuel and money into lots of noise, and more airports are becoming off-limits to the –20s. Tracor makes a hush kit to get the airplane to Stage III, but you have to give up the thrust reversers – none of our –20 owners thought that was an acceptable tradeoff, so they gave up access to some airports instead.

As far as flight profiles go, the –20 series Lear is one of the few jets that can climb at MTOW directly into the 40s – and really it has to - the fuel burn is 2/3 higher at FL250 compared to FL450. Once in the 40s, the range and economy become acceptable and you’re usually above the jetstream, which is crucial heading west; also, because there are so few planes above FL 410, usually you get cleared direct once your up there – which saves time and distance. The downside if you’re based near a major traffic area like NYC or LA is that ATC will hold you down for a while before you can climb, and likewise you’ll be brought down early on the way in (we used to always try to negotiate a late descent by promising the controllers an aggressive rate).

What you really need to do is sit down with your business partner, and take a look at what he really wants in an airplane. I went through this with my boss when we upgraded out of a Lear 25 – he wanted three things in a plane – an enclosed lav, standup headroom, and coast-to-coast range; and of course he had an approximate price limit. When we evaluated his flying pattern though, we found that the farthest west he’d ever been to that point in the Lear was a single trip to Las Vegas; other than that his trips never went west of the Great Lakes. In his case we compromised on the coast-to-coast range, figuring that one fuel stop on the occasional trans-con was an acceptable trade off to open a wider range of planes in his price category.

You need to do the same with your partner – find out what he really wants in his plane, what he’s willing to compromise on, and how much he’s really willing to spend. For example, if his profile is mostly local flying, the King Air is an option with charters and/or airlines to get to the east coast and the islands – but a few of those would make up for the price differential quickly, so if he goes east frequently, the King Air is out. You may also find that once he has own plane he’ll start flying more than he planned – we had another owner that didn’t plan on flying more than 750 or so miles from home, so we went for a C-550 with him. Unfortunately, he loved the convenience of his own plane and eventually ended up flying coast-to-coast and throughout the Caribbean from the northeast, which made the C-550 impractical. It’s hard to know what your partner will do once he has a plane, but you really need to sit him down and try to find out.

And if you can, get over to Van Nuys and talk to some of the pilots flying –20s. Clay Lacy still flies them, and there are others – we test flew a couple of –24s out there when we were looking.

There is a crew manual that has performance numbers, but I no longer have a copy. Here are some numbers from the last six months I flew –25Ds (I don’t have anything going back further). Based on actual flight times (as opposed to block times):

Fuel Burns:

First Hour – 2400 lbs (360 gals)
Second Hour – 1500 lbs (230 gals)
Third Hour – 1300 lbs (200 gals)

For a total of 5200 lbs – with a total capacity of about 6000 lbs (depending on the specific plane), there is no fourth hour. With the first hour burn, you can see that the plane uses a lot of fuel just getting to altitude. Because of this, and unlike a –35, all five tanks are filled almost every flight (the fuselage tank carries about 1300 lbs and is essentially what gives you the third hour.) This is inconvenient because it can’t be filled directly, and using the plane’s pumps to transfer takes just under twenty minutes, and a GPU to save the batteries.

For comparison, on average our last –25D burned an average of 315 gal/hour on all trips, while our C-550 burned 200 gal/hour. When you correct for the difference in speeds, it’s a little closer, but the –25D will still burn about 20% more per mile flying in still air.

However, if you’re flying against the jetstream, the differences are less – with a 100 knot jet in the winter the specific range (miles per gallon) of the –25D and C-550 are within a few percent of each other, and if the –25D climbs above the jetstream it’s specific range is actually better than the C-550. Eastbound, the numbers swing back further in favor of the C-550, but with it’s greater speed the Lear pilot can pull back the power and still make good time. Unfortunately, with straight non-bypass engines, that doesn’t save much fuel, but it does help.

In terms of absolute range, our longest flights were all about 1050 nm against the jetstream and flying out of NYC (i.e. kept low); with the wind, you could plan slightly longer legs. 430 KTAS/0/78M is a good number in the 40s at ISA.

Takeoff and landing speeds are actually pretty low – less than the Saab that I fly now. At MTOW, ISA, SL our takeoff distance was 4000 ft and our landing distance at MLW was 3000 ft. At Aspen on a hot day it would take about 7000 ft. for takeoff and 3500 ft for landing. These numbers vary a little depending on the actual plane as there were several different wings on the –25Ds, each with slightly different numbers.

I didn’t save any of our operating expense data when I left, but I can tell you that after some initial “growing pains” when we first got the aircraft, we had almost no expenses outside of normal wear and tear (lights, tires, etc.) with one exception – the starter-generators. The brushes wear quickly and have to be replaced religiously, and the units themselves go out for maintenance fairly often – we actually bought a third so that we could swap them instead of grounding the airplane while they were being rewound. Someone already posted the Conklin & De Decker link – if you’re going to look at one of these planes you also need to find out when all the major overhaul items are coming up – again the airframe is relatively cheap but you can get eaten alive by a hot-section teardown.
For 1 Mil. you can get a descent 20 series, I don't think you can say the same for 30 series.

I think it takes around 2 1/2 for a nice 30 series.

I used to operate a 20 series from the southeat somtimes to NY and Boston. If the weather was down and everybody was getting vectored for approaches, you could do maybe 15 minutes in a hold and then you better be heading to the final approach fix, if not , it could get very interesting. Needless to say you had to do some pretty good planning on those kinds of days.

On the other hand we did alot of 20 min trips, you flight plane to get up to the mid 20's, but ATC would only get you up to 15K at the most before you had to start coming down, the dollar bills were just flying strait out of the CJ-610's.

A 20 series is great as far as speed below 25K, but its not a speed demon up at altitude compared to the heavies. Your up at FL430 doing .80 and ATC asks you to give them a 15 degree turn so an MD-11 can get by doing .87, or a 747 or any varois aircraft you come across leaving you in the dust, face it, .82 aint the fastest thing around.

As far as fuel burn, it burns the same amount of gas sitting on the taxi-way as it does sitting at FL430, 1600 lbs/hr.

Long range cruise, 1450 lbs/hr doing .76-.78 at FL430.

For flight planning purposes, fuel burn is:

2200 lbs/hr for the first hour 1st hour.
1600 lbs/hr for the 2and.
1200 lbs/hr for the 3rd.

Some people flight plan for less, but you never know when something unexpected may happen.

It's actually a good 2 1/2 hr airplane, if you plan good you can get 3 hrs out of it with the runway in sight with the gear out cleared to land. I have heard better than that, but that seems to be the average I have seen, some other people may have seen it better or worse, it just depends on the airplane.

Like previous posters have said, its not that bad of an airplane to handle, but let things start mounting up on you, and you can get buried quick.

I don't think there are many airplanes you can compare to a 20 series Lear other than military aircraft, they are a blast, built for speed, not for comfort, ecpecially for the pilots, and if you are 6 feet or better like me, after a 2 hr flight, your ready to get out.
Keep in mind that a fuel stop in a Lear is nothing more than a glorified potty stop on the interstate. You start your decent from 430 eight-six miles out(2 to 1) zip right in and land(Salina is a perfect fueling airport) Start transferring fuel to the trunk on taxi in, and also get your clearance outbound. Get the GPU plugged in for fuel transfer and start fueling both tanks at the same time. A quick run to the potty,coffie, new ice, pay for the fuel. Start up and taxi out, 12 minutes later you are level at 390 and on your way to the west coast. Total time on the ground 15 minutes.

I guess all of us 20 series drivers know of Salina.

Your right, it is a good fuel stop.