Challenger 650, all good things come to an end

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On November 8, 1978, the very first Challenger 600 took off at the Cartierville airport. At that time, Canadair’s competitors said that the Challenger was a good airplane on paper, but that it would never achieve the promised performance. Forty years later, the Challenger is still in production and not only is it the best-selling business jet, but during the 80s and 90s, the Challenger 600 was the benchmark for business jet aircraft.


After purchasing Canadair from the Canadian government in 1986, Bombardier listens to the recommendation of Canadair engineers and launches the Challenger-based Regional Jet. It is therefore safe to say that the Challenger has helped to bring to life the giant that has become Bombardier Aerospace. Moreover, since the Challenger 600 and CRJ platforms have the largest proportion of parts manufactured in the Montreal area, the Challenger is also at the heart of the development of the Montréal aerospace cluster.


When we ask Bombardier Business Aircraft people about the replacement of the Challenger 650, we are told that despite its venerable age, its production rate is 25 aircraft per year and that it is a profitable program. All right, but you do not have to wait for deliveries to fall at two or three aircraft a year before you start thinking about replacing it, especially since it takes five to seven years or more to develop a new aircraft.


Right now, Bombardier’s research and development and certification team of new aircraft has just completed the Global 7500 and is already working on the Global 6500. The Global 5500 is expected to make its first flight in 2019, which means that somewhere near the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021 the two new versions of the Global will be certified. Next will be the Global 8000 flight test campaign with certification towards the end of 2023 and after …


So the end of 2023 would be the right time to start the certification flights for Bombardier’s next business jet, given the time it takes to establish the characteristics of an airplane and then to develop it, this should be no surprise if by NBAA 2019 Bombardier announces a new business jet program. Because all good things come to an end, this new program would be the replacement for the Challenger 650.

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