The Gates Learjet 36A is a twin-engine executive jet aircraft for up to
six passengers. William P. Lear, Sr. initiated in 1959 the development
of the Lear Jet a small jet aircraft, based on the known structural
quality of a Swiss strike-fighter, the FFA P.16. The Lear Jet Model
accommodated two crewmembers and five passengers in its basic executive
model. This Lear Jet Model 23 Continentals was the first small jet
aircraft to enter mass production. Originally the Lear Jet had to be
assembled by the Flug- und Fahrzeugwerke FFA AG in Altenrhein,
Switzerland, from components manufactured there, in the U.S.A., Japan
and elsewhere. Problems with suppliers and production tooling in
Switzerland the European assembly plans having been abandoned in 1962.
Lear compelled to shift assembly of the new aircraft to Wichita, Kansas,
U.S.A. Nine months after work on the project had begun by Lear Jet
Industries, the first prototype of this business transport, N801L, flew
on 7 October 1963, from Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport. The original
Learjet was destroyed in June 1964 when it crashed at takeoff with a
Federal Aviation Administration pilot at the controls. The cause of the
accident was determined to be pilot error—retraction of the jet's lift
spoilers was overlooked. However, the second prototype and first
production Learjet Model 23, N802L, flew first on 5 March 1964 and
received formal FAA certification on 31 July 1964. The first delivery of
a Learjet Model 23 was to Chemical and Industrial Corporation of
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA was on 13 October 1964. As the private jet market
became more competitive, Lear Jet had difficulties remaining profitable
and substantial operating losses accumulated over the first few years of
production. In 1967, the company was sold to Gates Rubber Company of
Denver, Colorado, and renamed the Gates Learjet Corporation. The Learjet
35 is a stretched, turbofan powered development of the initial Learjet
models, the 23, 24 and 25. The Learjet 36 is basically a Learjet 35 with
increased range. This increase is possible through the removal of two
seats for an extra fuel tank. The Learjet 36A is a further development
and has upgraded engines and a higher maximum gross weight. The Learjet 36A
accommodates a flight crew of two and main cabin seating for six passengers in a corporate
configuration at a max. cruise speed of Mach 0.81/852 km/h.
The economical cruise speed of the Learjet 36A is 774 km/h. The
Learjet 36A was introduced in 1976, replacing the Learjet 36. Military
versions of the Learjet 36A are the R-21A and the U-21A. The R-21A is a
reconnaissance version equipped with a long-range oblique photography
cameras, SLAR and a survellance camera system. The U-21A is a utility
transport, training version.Gates Learjet produced the Learjet line until 1987 and
since 1990, the jets have been produced by the Canadian corporation
Bombardier under the name of Learjet, Inc. Developments out of the basic
Learjet Model 23 which entered production with Lear Jet Industries and
or Gates Learjet Corporation were the Models 24, 25, 25D, 28, 29, 31, 35
and 36. When Bombardier took over the Lear Jet production the Models 31,
35, 36 and derivates of these Models remained in production. Until 1994,
when the production of the Model 36A ended, 64 Learjet 36 and Learjet 36A were built.
Skyline Aviation B.V. is an aviation company and fixed base operator (FBO) that works for Army, Airforce and Marines.
Skyline Aviation was established in 1990 and its head office is at Den Helder Airport in the Netherlands.
Besides Target Tow missions for Navy, Skyline performs EW training missions for the Airforce and uses the L-39 Albatros for training of
Forward Air Controllers (FAC) for the Army and Marines. Skyline Aviation operates one missionized Learjet 36A, one Beechcraft 200 King Air and
several Aero L-39 Albatros military jet aircraft out of Den Helder-De Kooy and Groningen Airport Eelde. The Learjet and the Aero L-39V are used
for Target Towing. The Learjet has an auxilary fuel tank for long endurance missions. Gates LearJet 36A N116MA is one of the Skyline Aviation' aircraft based at
Groningen Airport Eelde. This 1977-built LearJet 36A c/n 36-029 was registered first HB-VFD (ex N79JS ntu) in Switzerland and was operated by ALG Aeroleasing SA.
In 1985, the HB-VFD was transferred to John von Neumann, Geneve. In 1990, the aircraft was re-registered N116MA, with Mantab Aircraft Sales, Inc., Hollywood,
Florida, USA. Learjet N116MA was transferred to Skyline Aviation and based at Valkenburg Naval Air Base. In December 2006, Valkenburg NAB closed and the
Learjet was moved to Groningen Airport Eelde. However Skyline Aviation is the operator of Learjet N116MA, the aircraft is registered in the USA with Alexandair Inc.,
Wilmington, Delaware, as registered owner.