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Lear Drivers

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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...

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