The Bombardier Challenger 600 series is a family of business jets designed by Bill Lear and produced first by Canadair until that company was bought byBombardier Aerospace in 1986.
The aircraft was an independent design by Bill Lear in 1976, who had resigned as Chairman of Lear Jet seven years previously. Originally dubbed the LearStar 600, Lear sold exclusive rights to produce and develop the design to Canadair, who renamed it the CL-600 Challenger.
While similar in general configuration to Lear’s previous designs, notable changes were made that distinguished the new aircraft from theLearjets, including the use of a widened fuselage that allowed a “walk-about cabin”, a feature not shared by any other business aircraft of the time. 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, Canada. The second and third prototypes flew in 1979. An 3 April 1980 test flight 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 take-off 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 fowler flap design, where the fairings can be seen below the wings, a sight much more common on commercial airliners.
- CL-600: original production version, powered by Avco Lycoming ALF 502L turbofans of 7,500 lbf (33.6 kN) thrust each. Built until 1983 (83 built)
- CL-600S: 76 CL-600s retrofitted with the winglets introduced on the CL-601-1A. 12 aircraft purchased by the Royal Canadian Air Force, named CC-144, CE-144, and CX-144.
- CL-601-1A: refined version including winglets to reduce drag and more powerful General Electric CF-34 engines. (66 built, including 4 Canadian Forces CL-144/ CC-144B)
- CL-601-1A/ER: 601-1A retrofitted with an additional fuel tank in the tail
- CL-601-3A: engine with a higher flat rating and a glass cockpit. This was the first version marketed by Bombardier.
- CL-601-3A/ER: 601-3A with an additional, optional fuel tank in the tail
- CL-601-3R: the tail tank was made standard, and airline style “unsided” engines (no left or right) were used, matching what was used on the CRJ.
- CL-604: major upgrade of the 601 design, incorporating more powerful engines, larger fuel supply, 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 Collins ProLine 4 avionics system. The C-143A is a single Challenger 604 aircraft, which was acquired by the United States Coast Guard in December 2005 as its new Medium Range Command and Control Aircraft (MRC2A).
- CL-604 Multi-Mission Aircraft: militarized version 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.
- CL-605: 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.
The CL-610 Challenger E was to have been a stretched version for use as a cargo plane by Federal Express, or alternatively, as a passenger aircraft with seating for 24 passengers. Federal Express placed orders for 25 CL-610s, but these orders were canceled after the passage of air cargo deregulation in the US in 1977. Development was halted by Canadair in 1981 without any having been built. A few years later, a new project would develop the Canadair Regional Jet based on a stretched Challenger design.
- Crew: Two (pilot & co-pilot)
- Capacity: Up to 19 passengers, depending on configuration
- Length: 20.85 m (68 ft 5 in)
- Wingspan: 19.61 m (64 ft 4 in)
- Height: 6.30 m (20 ft 8 in)
- Wing area: 48.3 m² (520 ft²)
- Empty weight: 9,292 kg (20,485 lb)
- Loaded weight: 19,618 kg (43,250 lb)
- Useful load: 1,814 kg (4,000 lb)
- Max. takeoff weight: 19,550 kg (43,100 lb)
- Powerplant: 2 × General Electric CF34-3A turbofans, 40.7 kN (9,140 lbf) each
- Maximum speed: 882 km/h (476 knots, 548 mph)
- Cruise speed: 851 km/h, (459 knots, 529 mph)
- Range: 6,236 km (3,366 nm, 3,875 mi)
- Service ceiling: 12,500 m (41,000 ft)
- Rate of climb: 1,355 m/min (4,450 ft/min)