The Learjet Model 31 series, which was produced from 1988 to 2002, mated the tube of its immediate progenitor, the Model 35/36, to the high-performance wing of the short- lived model 28/29 “Longhorn”. In doing so, the 31 honored both pocket-rocket legacy and the Spartan cabin spirit of those original 1960s Learjets. The 31’s cabin measures 4.35 feet high, and 4.95 wide, with no galley or lavatory. What you sacrifice in comfort, room and amenities, you make up for with speed… a lot of it.
With a variable cost per hour of $2,221, a range of 1,480 nautical miles, and a normal cruise speed of 462 knots, Bombardier built 262 Lear 31s during its production run. Even though this aircraft appeared in several versions, the bulk of production was the Model 31A, which began appearing in 1991.
Believe it or not, the difference between a Learjet 31 and a 31A is pretty significant. The 31A’s improvements include electronic windshield de-icing and a digital Bendix/King avionics suite that continues to garner pilot praise and has stood the test of time. A year 2000 block change further improved the aircraft, adding full authority digital engine control (FADEC), much needed two-zone climate controls and increased takeoff and landing weights. The 31A is very much a pilot’s airplane that can cruise at 51,000 feet and dominate short runways.
Even though it can usually only accommodate 6 passengers (with executive seating), and has a baggage compartment big enough for just a couple of briefcases (30 cubic feet), the 31 is one tough private jet. So much so that for a better part of two decades, Wal-Mart operated 14 Lear 31s and 31As (most of them used) and put an average of 750-1,000 hours per year on them. During that time, the company’s earnings-per-share tripled, its revenues quintupled and its net income increased tenfold. In 2009 it had revenues of $408 billion and is now the world’s largest company.
Can you credit its Learjet fleet for this performance? Probably not, but having these aircraft at their disposal certainly didn’t hurt.
If you need to get somewhere fast, consider chartering a Learjet 31A, or reaching out to a reputable private jet company that can suggest and secure the ideal aircraft for your trip.