Production of the Learjet, which has become synonymous with the lifestyle of the rich and famous as the private jet of choice for Frank Sinatra, will be discontinued after almost 60 years later this year, the Canadian Bombardier announced on Thursday.
The aviation company plans to focus on more profitable aircraft after the Learjet fell out of favor and private aircraft buyers switched to larger, more comfortable, longer-range models.
The announcement means the shedding of 1,600 jobs in Canada and the United States, another blow to aircraft manufacturing that withered in the pandemic.
The iconic jet, made in Wichita, Kansas, was among the first private luxury aircraft.
The inventor William Lear based his design in part on Swiss military jets, which enabled him to fly as fast as a transatlantic Boeing 707 but still remained glamorous. Lear’s other inventions included the 8-track cassette recorder.
The first Learjet flew in 1963 and more than 3,000 have been built since then.
However, in the age of the 1960s celebrities Sinatra, Marlon Brando and Dean Martin, it became a special icon.
Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra outside Sinatra’s Learjet in the mid-1960s. Sinatra became an early user of the private jet in 1965 when he received a Learjet 23, which he named after his youngest daughter, Christina II
Sinatra let Elvis Presley borrow his Learjet in 1967 to flee with Priscilla Beaulieu, as pictured above
Singer James Brown at Los Angeles International Airport with his Lincoln Continental and a waiting Learjet
Beyonce gets into a Learjet. Jay Z owns a Challenger that was built by the Canadian company Bombardier
Pictured is a prototype of a Learjet 23 Executive Jet on a test flight on February 24, 1964
At the time, Lear and other aircraft manufacturers relied on prominent referrals to sell aircraft, and Sinatra became an early adopter in 1965 when he received a Learjet 23, which he named after his youngest daughter, Christina II.
Prior to owning the snappy six-seater, Sinatra had owned a 40-seat airliner and a Morane-Saulnier MS.760 Paris – a French military trainer who served as a business jet.
At this point in his career, Sinatra was already chairman of his own record label, director of his own film company, and a major real estate agent and investor.
However, according to the BBC, it was the $ 495,000 jet that helped him woo 23-year-old Mia Farrow after her first date in 1965.
The next year the couple flew by plane to the south of France on their honeymoon.
Sinatra let Elvis Presley borrow his Learjet in 1967 to flee with Priscilla Beaulieu. The couple flew from Palm Springs to Las Vegas for their eight-minute wedding ceremony on the jet before taking them straight back home.
And on the Learjet, Sinatra reportedly grilled actor Michael Caine over his intentions for his daughter Nancy.
Dean Martin is believed to have been a regular passenger on Sinatra’s jet, and he was also used to fly Sammy Davis Jr. and Marlon Brando to Mississippi to join Martin Luther King Jr. on a freedom march.
In addition to being a line on Carly Simon’s 1971 hit “You’re So Vain,” the Learjet made an appearance elsewhere in pop culture, including the hit TV show “Mad Men.”
In the song, Simon stated, “You flew your Learjet to Nova Scotia to see the total solar eclipse.”
It was never revealed who the song was, but it was believed to be actor Warren Beatty.
The jet, the latest version of which cost $ 21 million, was also featured in Pink Floyd’s song ‘Money’.
Singer Elvis Presley looks out from behind his wife, Priscilla Ann Beaulieu, as the couple boarded a plane after their wedding at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas in 1967. The couple had borrowed Sinatra’s Learjet to fly to the wedding
Beyonce in the cabin of her private Bombardier jet pictured in an undated picture
In 2013, the artist Princess Tarinan von Anhalt celebrates the 50th anniversary of Learjet
Tennis star Novak Djokovic poses with the Bombardier Learjet 45 XR in Bermuda in 2012
“It was elegant and almost had a fighter jet pedigree,” said Richard Aboulafia, aerospace analyst with the Teal Group.
‘For its time it symbolized the personal transportation of executives. Plus, Carly Simon turned it into a fantastic song – one that cemented its place in popular culture. ‘
However, for the first few years the jet was plagued by tragedy, as 23 of 104 Learjets sold in the first three years crashed.
Sinatra’s 82-year-old mother was one of the victims when the Learjet 24 he chartered to take her from Palm Springs to Las Vegas fell into a snow storm and crashed in January 1977.
Professional golfer Payne Stewart and four others died in a Learjet crash in South Dakota in October 1999.
Rescue workers walk past the scene of the accident where the golfer Payne Stewart was killed in October 1991
A large external piece of the Payear Stewart Learjet 35 is taken for investigation after the crash
Investigators said the Learjet crashed after the plane stopped applying pressure. Stewart (pictured) and four others died
Stewart had flown from his home in Florida to a tournament in Texas. Investigators said the plane crashed after the plane stopped applying pressure.
US Air Force jets followed the jet on its westward course, according to CBS, and saw that the windows were iced over with frost. The plane eventually ran out of fuel and crashed.
Bombardier bought the Learjet in 1990, but in recent years production of the aircraft had slowed to about one per month.
Thursday’s decision was announced in 2015 when Bombardier unplugged a brand new model, the Learjet 85, upon the introduction of weak demand. Analysts could see the end of the line.
“The only thing the pandemic did was hasten a sad ending,” Aboulafia said.
Bombardier said it will continue to support the Learjet fleet and existing jets will continue to fly for many years.
Lewis Hamilton after flying to Belfast on a Lear Jet in 2008 to visit the Shorts Aircraft Factory
Pictured a baby is rushed to hospital in Colorado on a Learjet flight in July 1973
A Learjet 35A light twin turbofan business jet is shown in an undated file photo
The interior seating of the Learjet 60XR Business Jet, manufactured by Bombardier Inc. in 2011
Most of the projected job losses for Bombardier in Montreal will occur in Canada, with about 700 planned in Quebec and 100 in Ontario.
The company announced that it will cut about 250 jobs in Wichita this year and next, and another 100 jobs in the rest of the US.
CEO Eric Martel said in a statement that job cuts are always difficult, “but these cuts are absolutely necessary so that we can rebuild our business as we continue to navigate the pandemic.”
Air traffic has dropped sharply during the COVID-19 outbreak, which has resulted in a sharp drop in demand for new aircraft.
Bombardier said that discontinuing production of the Learjet later this year will allow the company to focus on its more profitable Challenger and Global aircraft and accelerate the expansion of its service business.
Oprah is said to be a fan of the Global plane, while Jay Z owns a Challenger.
Other celebrities have moved on to competing companies more recently, with Tom Cruise owning a Gulfstream and Drake owning a full-size Boeing 767 intended for personal use.
Despite Cruise’s own preference, the Learjet 23 was used to film the aerial sequences of Top Gun.
Passenger seats can be seen in 2013 in a full-scale model of a Bombardier Learjet 85
A Learjet aircraft in flight in an undated picture. The aircraft will go out of production later this year
The announcement came after the company reported an adjusted loss before interest and taxes for the fourth quarter due to the coronavirus pandemic.
After Montreal-based Bombardier warned of possible layoffs in November, the company announced further cost-cutting measures to deliver recurring savings of $ 400 million by 2023 and improve profits this year while also improving the aftermarket business to expand.
“We see 2021 as a year of transition,” Martel told analysts.
Bombardier, which previously planned to offset free cash flow in 2020, now expects cash flow to develop positively between 2021 and 2023.
The company’s shares fell 11 percent to $ 0.65 (Canadian) per share after the announcement at 10:30 a.m. in midday trading in Toronto.