Bombardier Challenger 600 series
|A Bombardier CL-604|
|First flight||8 November 1978|
|Status||Active In production|
|Number built||nearly 1100 (Dec 2017)|
The Bombardier Challenger 600 series is a family of business jets. It was first produced by Canadair as an independent company and then produced from 1986 by Canadair as a division of Bombardier Aerospace. As of December 2017, close to 1,100 Challenger 600 Series have been delivered. Including the Challenger 300 and Challenger 850, the 1,600 Bombardier Challengers in-service had logged 7.3 million hours over 4.3 million flights in early 2017.
The origin of the Challenger 600 lies in Canadair’s purchase of a concept for a business jet aircraft, the LearStar 600 from the American inventor and aircraft developer Bill Lear. However, Lear had practically no influence on the ensuing development and design of the aircraft. Even the name LearStar was not new to this concept, since Lear had long before used the name for his conversion of Lockheed Lodestars into business transports. Thus, Canadair quickly abandoned the name LearStar and adopted the name Challenger.
Canadair's top management was of the opinion that Lear’s concept was sketchy at best. Lear did not have an expert grasp of aeronautical engineering. He was also at a financial low point, with a skeleton staff. Thus, he had only been able to pay a California aeronautical consultant to do some very preliminary design explorations.
However, Canadair planned to use Lear’s name and skills at self-promotion to secure extensive financial guarantees for a business jet project from the Canadian Federal government. This proved an effective choice. In Challenger: An Industrial Romance , the 1980 The National Film Board of Canada documentary on the development of the aircraft, future Prime Minister Jean Chrétien specifically refers to the effect of personal contact with Lear (on Chrétien’s decision to direct financial support to Canadair’s program).
At the time of these events, Chrétien was successively President of the Treasury Board, Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce, and Minister of Finance, in the Canadian Federal government. Due to the use of letters of comfort, the extent of the Ministry's financial commitments for Canadair could be kept from parliament and the public for several years. These financial guarantees were later used as an academic example of insufficient monitoring and lax controls in government support of industry.
While the Challenger would be similar in general configuration to other aircraft of its type already on the market, certain of its features would stand out, for example, the use of a widened fuselage that allowed a "walk-about cabin". The Challenger was also one of the first bizjets designed with a supercritical wing.
On 8 November 1978, the prototype aircraft took off at Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The second and third prototypes flew in 1979. A test flight on 3 April 1980 in the Mojave Desert resulted in disaster, the aircraft crashing due to the failure of the release mechanism to detach the recovery chute after a deep stall, killing one of the test pilots (the other test pilot and the flight test engineer parachuted to safety).
Despite the crash, both Transport Canada and the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States certified the aircraft in 1980, albeit with restrictions to pilots including a limited maximum takeoff weight. A program to reduce the aircraft's weight was then implemented to improve the aircraft's range.
Challengers can be identified visually by their distinctive double slotted hinged flap design, where the fairings can be seen below the wings, a sight much more common on commercial airliners.
- Original production version, powered by Avco Lycoming ALF 502L turbofans of 7500 lbf (33.6 kN) thrust each. Built from 1978 to 1982 (81 built)
- Three CL-600s retrofitted with the winglets introduced on the CL-601-1A.
- Canadair CC-144
- 12 aircraft purchased by the Royal Canadian Air Force, including the CE-144 and CX-144
- Canadair CE-144
- Three Electronic warfare / EW trainers converted to/from basic CC-144.
- Canadair CX-144
- Second prototype, a CL-600-1A11, c/n 1002, allocated to the RCAF after finishing test programme. Used at the Aerospace Engineering and Test Establishment (AETE), CFB Cold Lake until retirement in 1993, now preserved at the CFB Winnipeg. Designated CC-144 in service.
- A refined version including winglets to decrease drag and more powerful General Electric CF34-1A (66 built, including six Canadian Forces CC-144B)
- 601-1A retrofitted with an additional fuel tank in the tail
- GE CF34-3A engines with a higher flat rating and a glass cockpit. This was the first version marketed by Bombardier, indeed.
- 601-3A with an additional, optional fuel tank in the tail
- The tail tank was made standard, CF34-3A1 Engines were introduced.
- Version powered by GE CF34-3A2 engines
- A major upgrade of the 601 design, incorporating more advanced GE CF34-3B engines; increased fuel capacity, including saddle tanks in the rear of the aircraft; new undercarriage for a higher takeoff and landing weight; structural improvements to wings and tail; and a new Rockwell Collins ProLine 4 avionics system.
- CL-604 MMA
- (Multi-Mission Aircraft), militarized version, developed by Field Aviation, in Danish service. The aircraft are employed on maritime patrol and search and rescue missions.They are capable of landing on the short, rough, gravel airstrips common in the Arctic.
- A single Challenger 604 aircraft was acquired by the United States Coast Guard in December 2005 as its new Medium Range Command and Control Aircraft (MRC2A).
- Introduced in early 2006 as an avionics and structural upgrade of the 604 design. Structural improvements include larger cabin windows. Cockpit instrumentation updated with the Collins Proline 21 avionics and "electronic flight bag" capability. It can be visually identified by a new, rounded tailcone.
- CL-605 MSA
- A maritime patrol aircraft design under development by Boeing. Boeing has proposed a repackaging of some of the Boeing P-8 Poseidon sensors but not weapons into a less expensive airframe, the Bombardier Challenger 605 business jet. This aircraft is named Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) and has been depicted with the AN/APY-10 radar, an electro-optical sensor in a retractable turret, and a magnetic anomaly detector. On February 28, 2014, a MSA demonstrator which is a modified CL-604 made its first flight, but the final aircraft will use the CL-605 airframe. The demonstrator currently has the external shapes for the sensors and communications systems which will be added later. The final MSA is expected to cost $55 million to $60 million per aircraft.
- The CL-650 is a major upgrade of the CL-605. It includes a completely redesigned interior cabin, the new "Vision" flight Deck which is a Rockwell Collins Proline 21 Enhanced, and a 5% increase in takeoff thrust.
Military and government operators
- Royal Australian Air Force
- Australian Maritime Safety Authority operated by Cobham Aviation
- Royal Canadian Air Force: designated as the Bombardier CC-144 Challenger
- Croatian Air Force (EMS and VIP Transport)
- German Air Force (seven Challenger 601, retired 2011)
- United States Air Force
- United States Coast Guard: designated as the Bombardier C-143 Medium Range Command and Control Aircraft (MRC2A).
- LifeFlight Australia: operates one CL604s modified for medevac
- Air Tindi operates two CL-601s
- Government of Quebec: operates two CL601s (one for medevac).
- North Cariboo Air: operates one CL601.
- Sunwest Aviation: operates two CL604s.
- Croatian Government: former operator
- Government of the Czech Republic: former operator
- Government Flying Service: operates two CL605s as part of fractional fleet.
- Hornbill Skyways: one CL-605 for state executive flight
- Princely Jets: operates one C604 and 0ne C601-3R
- Qatar Executive: operates three CL605
- Dana Executive Jets: operates one CL604
- SkyAngels Air Ambulance operates one CL601-3R for air ambulance missions
Incidents and Accidents
- Notable accidents involving Bombardier Challenger 600 aircraft
- On October 10, 2000, at 1452 central daylight time, a Canadair Challenger CL-600-2B16 (CL-604) (Canadian registration C-FTBZ and operated by Bombardier Incorporated) was destroyed on impact with terrain and post impact fire during initial climb from runway 19R at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport (ICT), Wichita, Kansas. The flight was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as an experimental test flight. The pilot and flight test engineer were killed. The copilot was seriously injured and died 36 days later.
- A Canadair Challenger CL-600-2B16 was destroyed on 5 January 2014 after crash-landing at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport in Colorado during a positioning flight from Tucson, Arizona to Salt Lake City, Utah, where a bank which was repossessing the aircraft was to take formal custody. The aircraft attempted a tailwind landing in low-level windshear and gust conditions, then declared a missed approach and executed a go-around. Upon the second landing attempt, the aircraft touched down, bounced airborne again and slammed into the runway, coming to rest upside-down near the departure end, in flames and its right wing separated from the airframe. One crewmember was killed; another crewmember and a passenger sustained serious injuries.
- On January 7, 2017, a Canadair CL-600-2B16 Challenger 604 lost altitude of nearly 9,000 feet as a result of severe wake turbulence from an Airbus A380. Despite substantial damage to the aircraft, the pilots managed to safely land the jet at Muscat Airport. However, the airplane was a written off due to the damage it suffered. All 9 passengers and crew members survived but many of them suffered serious injuries during the incident. 
Specifications (Challenger 650)
Data from Bombardier
- Crew: Two (pilot & co-pilot)
- Capacity: Up to 12 passengers
- Payload: 2,200 kg (4,850 lb)
- Length: 20.9 m (68 ft 5 in)
- Wingspan: 19.6 m (64 ft 4 in)
- Height: 6.3 m (20 ft 8 in)
- Wing area: 45.4 m² (489 ft²)
- Aspect ratio: 8.46
- Empty weight: 12,315 kg (27,150 lb)
- Max. takeoff weight: 21,863 kg (48,200 lb)
- Fuel capacity: 9,072 kg (20,000 lb)
- Cabin: 1.83 m / 6 ft 0 in high, 2.41 m / 7 ft 11 in wide
- Powerplant: 2 × General Electric CF34-3B turbofans, 41 kN (9,220 lbf) each
- Maximum speed: Mach 0.85 (490 kn; 908 km/h)
- Cruise speed: Mach 0.80 (461 kn; 854 km/h)
- Range: 7,408 km (4,000 nm)
- Service ceiling: 12,497 m (41,000 ft)
- Wing loading: 481.6 kg/m² (98.6 lb/ft²)
- Thrust/weight: 0.38
- Takeoff: 1,720 m / 5,640 ft (SL, ISA, MTOW)
- Landing: 732 m / 2,402 ft (SL, ISA, typical)
- Related development
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- "Bombardier's Newest Challenger Jet Models Surpass Significant Delivery Milestones" (Press release). Bombardier. December 6, 2017.
- "Business Jets Specification and Performance Data" (PDF). Business & Commercial Aviation. Aviation Week. May 2015.
- "Bombardier Business Aircraft's Service Centre Network Celebrates Completion of over 200 96-Month Inspections on Challenger Jets" (Press release). Bombardier. 17 Jan 2017.
- Rashke 1985, pp. 333–338.
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- Low, Stephen. Challenger: An Industrial Romance (16 mm, 57 min 23, sound, colour film). Montreal: National Film Board of Canada, 1980.
- Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the House of Commons for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1982, para. 10.95 to 10.100.
- Borins, Stanford F. and Lee Brown. Investments in Failure. New York: Raven Press, 1987. ISBN 0-458-80340-5.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bombardier Challenger 600.|
- Official website
- "CC-144 Challenger". Royal Canadian Air Force.
- "Bombardier Challenger 605". Smartcockpit.
- Challenger: An Industrial Romance. National Film Board of Canada. 1980., development documentary
- Fred George (Aug 25, 2016). "Used Aircraft Report: Challenger 604". Business & Commercial Aviation. Aviation Week.