About the common type certificate for the CRJ and the Challenger 650

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Some of ours readers have pointed out to us that the CRJ and Challenger 650 type certificate was the same and its transfer to Mitsubishi could cause problems for Bombardier if modifications to the Challenger 650 were required.

As a matter of fact, both models of aircraft are under Transport Canada type certificate A-131, so we’ve decided to make a few check to have a better understanding of the situation.

What is a type certificate

The type certificate is the first permanent document issued for an aircraft program.

All information about the performance and characteristics of an aircraft are recorded and all their compliance with the rules of certification and airworthiness. The first objective of a type certificate is to guarantee the safety of an aircraft type. The role, function and operation of each of the installed systems are also explained in detail.

The type certificate also contains all the information and technical specifications of all the parts that go into an airplane type. It describes the method of manufacturing and assembling all the systems that are installed as well as the method of assembling the aircraft. This is to ensure that each aircraft manufactured under a type certificate are identical and that they will all have exactly the same behavior in flight or when subjected to extreme conditions.

It is strictly forbidden to modify an aircraft without having completed an application for an supplemental type certificate (STC) and submitted it to the competent authorities for approval. For example: a builder cannot change the type of rivet for assembling an aircraft without submitting a STC. When robots are used to assemble the fuselage sections, the make, model and serial number of the machines are recorded in the type certificate.

The type certificate for aircraft the size of the Challenger 650 and the CRJ is an extremely complex document that count hundreds of thousands of pages and contains all the drawings and plans of an airplane. In theory, you can still apply for STC without having access to this document, but in fact this is virtually impossible. To have access to the type certificate documents, the holder of the type certificate for an aircraft the size of the Challenger 650 will charge a price ranging from one hundred thousand dollars to several million depending on the complexity of the change to be made and its market value.

Any difference between an aircraft and the type certificate leads to the suspension of the certificate of airworthiness and I cannot fly until its conformity has been validated.

The case of the Challenger 650 and the CRJ

Bombardier Business Aircraft media relation Manager Mr. Mark Masluch told us the following about the Challenger 650 and CRJ type certificate:

“We confirm that Bombardier is working with Transport Canada to divide / un-merge the certificate. The Challenger family will have its own certificate under the responsibility of Bombardier Aviation, as will MHI, which will have a certificate specific to the CRJ.

That said, from an engineering and support point of view, the programs have been supported by different groups for some time. The transition internally as well as for the clients will be smooth. “

Technically, Bombardier must re-apply for a type certificate in order to de-merge it from the CRJ. But in fact, it is the same aircraft that has already done all the necessary tests to validate its specificaations. Transport Canada may use the original documents for the new application without the public being endangered. At worst Bombardier will have to submit the original documentation again (as well as the dust that comes with it) in order to obtain a fair new type certificate for the Challenger 650.

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