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Me & My Aircraft: Learjet 45 'needs more baggage space' but is otherwise ideal for executive charter operations
Belgium's Abelag Aviation Group regards the Learjet 45 as an ideal aircraft for charter flights, according to Bart Hautekeur, technical director.

Belgium's Abelag Aviation Group regards the Learjet 45 as an ideal aircraft for charter flights, according to Bart Hautekeur, technical director. "It has high performance, good range, luxury cabin and fits perfectly between the other aircraft in the Abelag Group fleet," he says. "The only one minor negative point is the available baggage space in the aircraft, especially when you compare this with the Citation 525 series and the 560 XL."

Another Learjet 45XR operator, also licensed for online maintenance, says that it is very satisfied with the dispatch reliability. "This new aircraft is a sleek midsize eight-seat jet with transatlantic capability. We have just returned from a trip to the United States - there were no issues or problems and the passengers were very happy. We are very satisfied with the value and the best aspects include the improved pay load, range capability, flexibility and time to climb performance. It is an exciting aircraft."

The UK's Ravenair has three Learjet 45s based in the north west at Liverpool John Lennon and Manchester Airports. Operations director Wayne Barrett says the company is reasonably happy with the availability of spare parts.

"However some parts need to come from the US and this increases the lead time especially if we are dealing with an AOG situation." But he adds: "We are very pleased with the support we have received from Air Partner Private Jets at Biggin Hill and Ocean Sky at Manchester."

General Air Service based at Wevelgem and Antwerp, which carries out line and base maintenance for Sky Service and third parties, has been merged with the maintenance department of Abelag Aviation which performs line and base maintenance for Abelag Aviation and third parties.

Hautekeur explains: "These maintenance organisations have belonged to the Abelag group for a number of years but both were working with different procedures, post holders maintenance and quality systems. To make it all simple, and to help our third party clients, we decided to create one maintenance organisation with one approval, management located on the three most important airports for business aviation in Belgium - Brussels, Wevelgem and Antwerp."

The combined organisation, Abelag Technics, maintains Abelag's 19-strong business jet fleet, and third party aircraft. "It is an EASA part 145 approved facility with FAA capabilities and was a Bombardier service centre for 15 years and started with maintenance support on Learjets in 1972. Abelag was the first Learjet operator in the Benelux," Hautekeur says. "We perform all maintenance, up to D checks, on our Learjet 45s and also on the Learjet 60. There are no problems with spare parts. Bombardier has sufficient availability for the Learjets and the delivery is also fast enough."

He adds: "We are as a maintenance organisation certainly focused on maintenance of the smaller jets. We now have approval for line and base maintenance on the 525A. We hope to have our approval for the 525B very soon. Next year we will have the first delivery of a few Phenom 100s. Our goal is also to offer full maintenance support to our customers for this aircraft."

But maintenance approval ranges from the Beechcraft 90/200 series, Embraer 121, and Citation 550/560 series to the 525A, 560 XL, Learjets 45 and 60 and Falcon 2000 EXeasy. "We can also offer CAMO (Part M, Subpart G & I) services. On the avionics side, we are Garmin, Honeywell Bendix/King dealers."

Abelag Technics is audited by the Belgian CAA and EASA surveyor teams and also by other flight departments such as Skyjet/Vista jets and Netjets for whom it flies. The 30-strong team includes 14 qualified EASA PART 66 engineers.

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