Bombardier Challenger 600

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Challenger 600/601/604/605
Bombardier CL-604, built 2001
RoleBusiness jet
ManufacturerBombardier Aerospace
First flight8 November 1978
StatusIn production
Unit costAround US$25 million
Developed intoCRJ-100/200
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Challenger 600/601/604/605
Bombardier CL-604, built 2001
RoleBusiness jet
ManufacturerBombardier Aerospace
First flight8 November 1978
StatusIn production
Unit costAround US$25 million
Developed intoCRJ-100/200

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.

Origins and Development

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. [1][2] Even the name LearStar was not new to this concept, since Lear had long before used the name for his conversion of Lockheed Loadstars into business transports.[3] Thus, Canadair quickly abandoned the name LearStar and adopted the name Challenger.[4]

Canadair's top management was of the opinion that Lear’s concept was sketchy at best.[2] Lear did not have an expert grasp of aeronautical engineering.[5] He was also at financial low point, with a tiny staff. Thus, he had only been able to pay a California aeronautical consultant to do some very preliminary design explorations.[6]

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.[2] This proved an effective choice. In the 1980 National Film Board documentary on the development of the aircraft,[7] future Prime Minister Jean Chretien specifically refers to the effect of personal contact with Lear (on Chretien’s decision to direct financial support to Canadair’s program). At the time of these events, Chretien was successively President of the Treasury Board, Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce, and Minister of Finance, in the Canadian Federal government. These financial guarantees were later used as an academic example of insufficient monitoring and lax controls in government support of industry.[8]

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, 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).[9]

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 fowler flap design, where the fairings can be seen below the wings, a sight much more common on commercial airliners.


Bombardier Challenger 605 at the Battle Creek Air Show 1976




  • CL-604 Multi-Mission Aircraft: militarized version, developed by Field Aviation[12], in Danish service.[12] 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.[12]



The CL-610 Challenger E was to have been a stretched version for use as a cargo aircraft by Federal Express, or alternatively, as a passenger aircraft with seating for 24 passengers.[13] Federal Express placed orders for 25 CL-610s, but these orders were canceled after the passage of air cargo deregulation in the U.S. in 1977.[14] 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.


Military operators

The Challenger 601 is used to transport the Governor General, government officials, foreign dignitaries and the Prime Minister of Canada using the designation CC-144 Challenger.
U.S. Coast Guard VC-143 Challenger provides VIP transport for high-ranking members of the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Coast Guard using the designation Coast Guard 02.
 Czech Republic
 South Korea
 United States

Civilian operators

 Czech Republic
 Hong Kong

Specifications (CL-601-3A)

Data from [17]

General characteristics


See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era



  1. ^ Rashke 1985, pp. 333–338.
  2. ^ a b c Pickler and Milberry 1995, p. 263.
  3. ^ Munson, Russell. "Boardroom Bombers: From Warpaint to Pinstripes." Flying, Volume 119, Isuue 9, September 1987, p. 96.
  4. ^ Rashke 1985, p. 339.
  5. ^ Logie 1992, p. 57.
  6. ^ Logie 1992, p. 55.
  7. ^ Low, Stephen. [Challenger: An Industrial Romance (16 mm, 57 min 23, sound, colour film). Montreal: National Film Board of Canada, 1980.
  8. ^ Borins, Stanford F. and Lee Brown. Investments in Failure. New York: Raven Press, 1987. ISBN 0-458-80340-5.
  9. ^ "The Crash of Challenger #1001." Retrieved: 19 September 2012.
  10. ^ Walker, R.R. "CC-144 Challenger detailed list." Canadian Military Aircraft Serial Numbers, Canadian Armed Forces, 2006. Retrieved: 19 September 2012.
  11. ^ Parsch, Andreas. "DOD 4120.15-L - Addendum.", 2011. Retrieved: 19 September 2012.
  12. ^ a b c "Update: Denmark's Arctic Assets and Canada's Response — Danish Air Force Aircraft on a Mission over Canada's High Arctic." Canadian American Strategic Review,July 2009. Retrieved: 19 September 2012.
  13. ^ Logie 1992, pp. 55–57.
  14. ^ "Federal Express: the Memphis Connection." Flight International, 4 April 1981.
  15. ^ Picture of the Canadair CL-600-2B16 Challenger 604 aircraft Retrieved 6 October 2012.
  16. ^ "Air Station Washington DC." USCG. Retrieved: 19 September 2012.
  17. ^ Lambert 1993, pp. 27–28.


External links