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Bombardier Challenger 600 series

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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.[3] Including the Challenger 300 and Challenger 850, the 1,600 Bombardier Challengers in-service had logged 7.3 million hours and over 4.3 million flights by early 2017.[4]

Challenger 600/601/604/605/650
OH-WII CL604 pvt (7950005490).jpg
A Bombardier CL-604
Role Business jet
Manufacturer Bombardier Aerospace
First flight 8 November 1978
Status In production
Produced 1980–present[1]
Number built 1,066 (October 2018)[1]
Unit cost
Challenger 650: US$32.35 millionUS (2015)[2]
Developed into CRJ-100/200
Global Express



The third prototype was reused as the ACT fly-by-wire demonstrator[5]
The Challenger cabin

Design processEdit

Circa 1974, Bill Lear conceptualised the LearStar 600 business jet powered by Garrett TFE731-1s. As Lear lacked the capabilities to launch it, Canadair backed it at the end of 1975. Canadair evolved the design to a large airframe with a new supercritical wing, new avionics and engines, for new FAR part 25 standards: an ambitious task. In April 1976, Canadair acquired the 63 by 53.3 ft (19.2 by 16.2 m) long and wide LearStar 600 concept: the most attractive Mach 0.85, 7,240 km (3,910 nmi) range executive jet for 14 passengers, then a freighter for a 3,400 kg (7,500 lbs) payload with a front door, or a less interesting commuter airliner for 30 passengers in 2-1 seating.[5]

The configuration was frozen in August and a 1/25 model was tested in the National Aeronautical Establishment transonic wind tunnel. Backed by the Federal Government, the programme was launched on 29 October 1976 with firm orders and deposits for 53 aircraft. After disagreements, Bill Lear was phased out and in March 1977 it was renamed the Challenger 600. The original conventional tailplane was in the engine exhaust path and it was changed for a T-tail.[5]

The wide cargo door was designed for FedEx, the launch customer with an order for 25 units. As FedEx had experienced problems with the General Electric CF34s, they favoured the Lycoming ALF 502D but those later had delivery troubles and lacked performance. By spring 1977, Canadair had over 70 firm orders and began constructing three prototypes. FedEx cancelled its orders due to the US Airline Deregulation Act, and the specific aircraft already in production were sold to other customers.[5]

A full-scale fuselage mockup was shown at the 1977 Paris Air Show before a European and North American tour and 106 units had been sold by the end of 1977. Airframe structural testing began in February 1979 and operational test cycling started in December 1979, simulating 72,638 flight hours by February 1985 while predicted lifetime was 30,000 hours. By March 1978, the first prototype was almost finished and the assembly of the two other had debuted. At nineteen months after the program was launched, 116 orders had been confirmed. The first prototype was rolled out on 25 May 1978, to be used in verifying flight characteristics and performance. The flight test and certification program would be conducted at Mojave Kern County Airport instead of Canada due to better weather conditions.[5]

Flight testsEdit

On 8 November 1978, the prototype aircraft first flew, from Montreal, Quebec. 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).[6]

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.

Bill Lear conceptEdit

The name LearStar was not new to this concept, since Bill Lear had long before used the name for his conversion of Lockheed Lodestars into business transports.[7][importance?] Canadair's top management was of the opinion that Lear's concept was sketchy at best.[8] Lear did not have an expert grasp of aeronautical engineering. Thus, he had only been able to pay a California aeronautical consultant to do some very preliminary design explorations.[9]

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.[8] This proved an effective choice: former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien specifically referred to the effect of personal contact with Lear on his decision to direct financial support to Canadair's program.[10]

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.[11] These financial guarantees were later used as an academic example of insufficient monitoring and lax controls in government support of industry.[12]


The cabin has a forward galley, two seating sections: typically a four-chair club section then conference grouping or divans and an aft lavatory.[13]

While the Challenger is generally similar in configuration to previous aircraft of its type, some of its features stand out; for example, the use of a widened fuselage that allows a "walk-about cabin". The Challenger was also one of the first bizjets designed with a supercritical wing.

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 CL-600s have ALF 502 with full cowlings, do not have winglets and their tailcone is truncated
Later Challengers have winglets and are powered by CF34s with an exposed nozzle, and from the pictured CL-605 have streamlined tailcones
The early 601 has small PFDs
The later 604 has larger screens
The 605 modern flight deck

CL-600 (1A11)Edit

Original production version, powered by Lycoming ALF 502 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.


CL-601-1A (2A12)
A refined version including winglets to decrease drag and more powerful General Electric CF34-1A (66 built, including six Canadian Forces CC-144B)[14]
601-1A retrofitted with an additional fuel tank in the tail
CL-601-3A (2B16)
GE CF34-3A engines with a higher flat rating and a glass cockpit. This was the first version marketed by Bombardier.
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[15]

CL-604 (2B16)Edit

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,[16] in Danish service.[16] 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.[16]
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).[17]

Built from 1996 through 2006, over 360 were delivered, early ones were selling for $4.0–$4.5 million and late models for less than $8 million in 2016. With 27,000 to 27,100 lb (12,200 to 12,300 kg) BOWs, it carries 6 to 7 passengers and full fuel with the increased MTOW, is able to cruise 7.5–8.0 hr at Mach 0.80 and to fly five passengers 4,000 nm at Mach 0.74 up to FL 410. Thrust lapse as altitude increases, hefty power and wing loadings affects hot-and-high performance: it takes off in 3,500 to 4,000 ft (1,100 to 1,200 m) for under 800 nmi (1,500 km; 920 mi) missions, in 5,684 ft (1,732 m) at MTOW and sea level but in 9,123 ft (2,781 m) at ISA+20C and 5,000 ft (1,500 m) altitudes, and TOW is reduced to 47,535 lb (21,562 kg) to meet climb requirements.

Pro Line 4 avionics include six 7.25 in (18.4 cm) CRTs and dual FMS. It burns 3,800 lb (1,700 kg) in the first hour, 3,200 lb (1,500 kg) in the second hour, 2,800 lb (1,300 kg) in the third hour then 2,000 lb (910 kg)/hr. Scheduled maintenance is done every 200 h or six months and major inspections every 96 months includes $110,000 landing gear overhauls, the 8,729 lbf (38.83 kN) CF34-3B turbofans costs $375 per engine per hour.[13]


Introduced in early 2006, airframe updated with larger cabin windows and a new tailcone, cockpit updated with the Collins Proline 21 avionics and "electronic flight bag" capability.
CL-605 MSA
A maritime patrol aircraft design under development by Boeing.[18] 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.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21][22] 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.[23]

The 605 and 650 improve the avionics and cabin but their performance figures are similar to the 604.[13]


redesigned interior cabin, Rockwell Collins Proline 21 Advanced flight Deck, 5% increase in takeoff thrust.[24][25]


The 500th unit was rolled out in May 2000.[26] The 1000th, a 650, was delivered to NetJets in December 2015.[27] By October 2018, the global fleet amounted to 997: 611 in North America, 151 in Europe, 93 in Latin America, 78 in Asia-Pacific, 37 in Africa and 23 in Middle East.[28]

Military and government operatorsEdit

  Czech Republic
  South Korea
  United Arab Emirates
  United States

Civilian operatorsEdit

F1 champion Lewis Hamilton jet
  Czech Republic
  • Government of the Czech Republic: former operator
  Hong Kong
  United Arab Emirates
  United Kingdom

.;  United States

Incidents and accidentsEdit

C-FTBZ remains

By March 2018, the Challenger fleet suffered 19 hull losses including ten causing 42 fatalities, the worst on 11 March 2018 when TC-TRB, a Challenger 604 crashed near Shahr-e Kord in Iran with 11 fatalities and the latest on 6 May 2019 when a Challenger 601 crashed in northern Mexico with 13 fatalities.[33]

  • 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.[34]
  • On November 28, 2004, a Bombardier Challenger CL-600,[35] carrying Dick Ebersol and two of his sons, Charlie and Teddy, crashed during an attempted takeoff from Montrose Regional Airport in Colorado. The jet's captain, Luis Polanco, flight attendant Warren T. Richardson III, and Teddy Ebersol were killed. Dick and his older son, Charlie, along with the first officer, survived, though seriously injured.[36] Charlie was thrown clear of the plane and rushed back inside and managed to pull his father to safety.
  • On 5 February 2005, a Canadair Challenger 600 was destroyed during a failed takeoff attempt at New Jersey Teterboro Airport (KTEB). The pilots had refueled at Teterboro but neglected to determine if the resulting condition was within its operating envelope. The airplane at 41,000 pounds (17,500 kg) gross weight was loaded too far forward, and the pilots were unable to raise the nose during the takeoff run. The airplane rolled off the runway, across a highway (striking one vehicle), and came to rest partially inside a building. There were 4 serious injuries and 10 lesser injuries.[35]
  • A Bombardier 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.[36]
  • On January 7, 2017, a Bombardier Challenger CL-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 International Airport. However, the airplane was 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.[37]
  • On March 11, 2018 a Turkish private Bombardier Challenger crashed into Bakhtiari mountains in Iran; all 11 people onboard were killed.[38]
  • On May 5, 2019 a Challenger CL601 crashed in Coahuila, north Mexico, on its return from Las Vegas, Nevada, killing 13 people.[39]

Specifications (Challenger 650)Edit

side view
planform view
front view, stairs open

Data from Bombardier[40]

General characteristics


See alsoEdit

Side by side with a Falcon 2000

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era


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  4. ^ "Bombardier Business Aircraft's Service Centre Network Celebrates Completion of over 200 96-Month Inspections on Challenger Jets" (Press release). Bombardier. 17 January 2017.
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  6. ^ "The Crash of Challenger #1001." Retrieved: September 19, 2012.
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  10. ^ Low, Stephen. Challenger: An Industrial Romance (16 mm, 57 min 23, sound, colour film). Montreal: The National Film Board of Canada, 1980.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Borins, Stanford F. and Lee Brown. Investments in Failure. New York: Raven Press, 1987. ISBN 0-458-80340-5.
  13. ^ a b c Fred George (Aug 25, 2016). "Used Aircraft Report: Challenger 604". Business & Commercial Aviation. Aviation Week.
  14. ^ Walker, R.R. "CC-144 Challenger detailed list." Canadian Military Aircraft Serial Numbers, Canadian Armed Forces, 2006. Retrieved: September 19, 2012.
  15. ^ Lombardo, David A. "CF34-3A2 engine ipgrade yields longer time on wing.", August 25, 2010. Retrieved: January 16, 2016.
  16. ^ a b c "Update: Denmark's Arctic Assets and Canada's Response — Danish Air Force Aircraft on a Mission over Canada's High Arctic." Archived 2009-07-09 at the Wayback Machine Canadian American Strategic Review,July 2009. Retrieved: September 19, 2012.
  17. ^ Parsch, Andreas. "DOD 4120.15-L - Addendum.", 2011. Retrieved: September 19, 2012.
  18. ^ Hemmerdinger, Jon. "Boeing's Challenger-based maritime surveillance aircraft nears first flight.", January 10, 2014. Retrieved: January 16, 2016.
  19. ^ Gates, Dominic. "Boeing’s cheaper surveillance aircraft takes first flight." Seattle Times (, March 5, 2014. Retrieved: January 16, 2016.
  20. ^ "Maritime Surveillance Aircraft: Boeing selects a Bombardier 'Bizjet', the Challenger 605, as the preferred airframe for its proposed MSA." Archived 2013-09-23 at the Wayback Machine Canadian American Strategic Review, July 2013. Retrieved: January 16, 2015.
  21. ^ "Boeing Selects Bombardier business jet for Maritime Surveillance Aircraft Program." Boeing, November 18, 2013. Retrieved: January 16, 2016.
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  25. ^ "Challenger 650." Retrieved: January 16, 2016.
  26. ^ "Bombardier rolls out 500th Challenger business jet". Aviation Week Network. June 26, 2000.
  27. ^ Kate Sarsfield (21 December 2015). "NetJets' first Challenger 650 enters operational service". Flightglobal.
  28. ^ Max Kingsley Jones (4 October 2018). "ANALYSIS: Challenger 600 marks 40 years in business". Flightglobal.
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  31. ^ "History of Air Station Washington." USCG. Retrieved: September 19, 2012.
  32. ^ [1] Archived August 22, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ "Canadair Challenger Statistics". Aviation Safety Network. Flight Safety Foundation. 6 May 2019.
  34. ^ "NTSB Aircraft Accident Brief." Archived 2016-01-08 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved: January 16, 2016.
  35. ^ Albright, James. "When Pilots Become Passengers". Business & Commercial Aviation, 24 May 2017 (accessed 22 March 2019)
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  38. ^ "Turkish Plane Crashes in Iran". Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  39. ^ "Aircraft accident Canadair CL-600-2B16 Challenger 601-3A N601VH Monclava". Aviation Safety Network. May 6, 2019.
  40. ^ "Challenger 650 Factsheet". Bombardier. 2017.

External linksEdit