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Me & My Aircraft: Challenger series
Challenger 300s, 600s and 800s are well-established in the super midsize sector. The Challenger 300 typically carries eight passengers and offers a range of around 3,100 nm and a cruise speed of 476 knots.

Challenger 300s, 600s and 800s are well-established in the super midsize sector. The Challenger 300 typically carries eight passengers and offers a range of around 3,100 nm and a cruise speed of 476 knots. Production of the 300, which began in 2003, continues today with the sales emphasis on the room it provides to conference and work. Bombardier stresses its reliability, high performance, its design for long-term service and its ability to maintain value over time.

The Challenger 600 was originally designed by Bill Lear, who worked on Learjets, and was initially named the LearStar 600. But, after design rights were sold, the LearStar 600 became known as the Challenger 600. The aircraft was similar in general configuration to Lear's previous designs but radical changes included the incorporation of a widened fuselage that allowed a 'walk-about cabin'.

It can be configured for ten passengers and offers a full lavatory and its interior dimensions are 6.1 ft high by 8.2 ft wide by 28.2 ft in length.

The Challenger 601 is an advanced version of the 600 with advanced safety and avionic systems and intercontinental range. Able to accommodate ten passengers and three crew members, the Challenger 601 has a slightly longer length at 28.5 ft and can cruise at 540 mph.

Challengers, which can be identified visually by their distinctive fowler flap more common to commercial airliners such as the Boeing 747, have undergone almost continual development since 83 of the original production version of the 600 were built until 1983. A total of 76 600s were retrofitted with the winglets introduced on the 601-1A. Some 66 of these, including four 144s, were built with reduced drag and more powerful General Electric CF-34 engines.

Other 601 series upgrades included a retrofitted additional fuel tank in the tail and a glass cockpit. The tail tank was made standard and airline style 'unsided' engines were introduced.

The Challenger 604 featured a major upgrade of the 601 design, incorporating more powerful engines and a larger fuel supply including saddle tanks at the rear. It featured a new undercarriage for a higher takeoff and landing weight, structural improvements to wings and tail and a new Collins ProLine 4 avionics system.

The 605, which was introduced in early 2006, is an avionics and structural upgrade of the 604 design. It features larger cabin windows and cockpit instrumentation updated with Collins Proline 21 avionics and an electronic flight bag.

These Challengers are configured for around nine passengers but the Challenger 800 series can take 18 passengers and has a range of around 2,178 nm.

Challenger 300 users raised issues of baggage space, cockpit noise and warranty and product support in response to the EBAN survey but were generally satisfied or very satisfied with key aspects.

Juhani Missonen of Jetflite, OY said he was very satisfied with the dispatch reliability and operating capability and satisfied with the maintenance support and value. "It is a very useful private aircraft with a roomy cabin," he adds.

London Executive Aviation's George Galanopoulos however is unhappy with the maintenance support citing slowness making available and dispatching spare parts. But he is satisfied with the dispatch reliability and very satisfied with the operating capability and value.

He emphasises: "The most desirable upgrade would be better range. The best aspect is the good cabin space and value for money but the worst thing is parts availability and Bombardier's poor support. Bombardier needs to improve in warranty issues and generally in product support."

Another respondent, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: "The worst aspect is the noise inside the cockpit and also in cabin and there is not enough space for catering. The most desirable upgrade would be an increase max take-off weight in order to increase payload." But he was very satisfied with the maintenance support, dispatch reliability, operating capability and value.

Triple Alpha GmbH's Hans Pfeiffer says: "Just a little bit more baggage space would be nice." But he is very satisfied with the dispatch reliability, operating capability and value. "The best aspect is the operational range which covers everything from short hops to intercontinental. The Challenger 300 has it all and is a very economical aircraft."

Capt Boris Matveyev of Baltic Jet Aircompany Ltd says the Challenger 601 is "cheaper than the 604" but needs an avionics upgrade to counter what he says is the worst aspect of the aircraft. But he is satisfied with the maintenance support, value and operating capability and very satisfied with the dispatch reliability.

EBAN survey respondents were generally satisfied with their Challenger 604s.

Jetflite, OY's Juhani Missonen says he is satisfied with the maintenance support and value and very satisfied with the dispatch reliability and operating capability.

Missonen likes the aircraft's good range, reliability and convertible cabin layouts but would welcome any improvements. But Frank Ruwe of Hapag Lloyd Flug GmbH is unhappy with maintenance support and a shortage of spare parts which he reports have been delivered to the wrong address.

But Ruwe is satisfied with the dispatch reliability, operating capability and value and praises the cockpit and cabin space.

However: "The worst thing is that engines run out of thrust above FL270 and the fuel transfer modification which results in a five per cent real life range reduction. The most desirable upgrades include precision plus, auto-throttle and new APU. It needs more range as the actuality is far off the book values."

Prestige Jet's Tareq Deeb, says he is very satisfied with the maintenance support, dispatch reliability, operating capability and value of the Challenger 604. And Gerard Williams of Starair (Ireland) Ltd likes the roomy interior although he would like better handling and a Pro Line upgrade. He is satisfied with the maintenance support and dispatch reliability and very satisfied with the operating capability and value.

John Keeble of Twinjet Aircraft Sales Ltd says he is satisfied with the maintenance support which he reports has improved over the past two years. He also reports satisfaction with the dispatch reliability, operating capability and value and praises the cabin volume and quietness. He adds: "It is an attractive corporate jet for charter and owner's own use."

Germany's FAI rent-a-jet AG says it is experiencing an increasing demand for ambulance flights with the Challenger 604 of its Nomad Aviation subsidiary. The company, Florian Weger adds, is also enjoying successful executive charter.

"For this reason FAI decided to extend its fleet of 13 aeroplanes by an owned Challenger 604 to increase availability to our existing clients in the aero medical sector. In addition Nomad Aviation will receive a second Challenger to optimise business charter availability." FAI, therefore, will be offering three Challengers for executive and ambulance charter.

Nomad Aviation AG's Claude Neumeyer is satisfied with the maintenance support and value and very satisfied with the dispatch reliability and operating capability of the Challenger 800.

Florian Schramboeck of Jetalliance Flugbetriebs GmbH is very satisfied with the maintenance support for the Challenger 800 and says the very large cabin is the best aspect. He would like to see an improvement in performance but is satisfied with the operating capability and the value. And Peter Wilczek of Majestic Executive Aviation AG is satisfied with the maintenance support and operating capability of the Challenger 850. He is also very satisfied with the dispatch reliability and value.

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