Military Wiki
Challenger 600/601/604/605
A Bombardier CL-604
Role Business jet
Manufacturer Bombardier Aerospace
First flight 8 November 1978
Status In production
Unit cost
approximately US$25 million
Developed into CRJ-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.


2010 Bombardier Challenger 600 2B16

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 Lodestars 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 The National Film Board of Canada documentary on the development of the aircraft,[7] future Prime Minister Jean Chrétien specifically refers to the effect of personal contact with Lear (on Chrétien’s decision to direct financial support to Canadair’s program).

At the time of these events, Chrétien was successively President of the Treasury Board, Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce, and Minister of Finance, in the Canadian Federal government. Due to the use of letters of comfort, the extent of the Ministry's financial commitments for Canadair could be kept from parliament and the public for several years.[8] These financial guarantees were later used as an academic example of insufficient monitoring and lax controls in government support of industry.[9]

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).[10]

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.


A Challenger 604 shortly before landing

A Challenger 604 from the RAAF


original production version, powered by Avco Lycoming ALF 502L turbofans of 7500 lbf (33.6 kN) thrust each. Built from 1978 to 1982 (81 built)
3 CL-600s retrofitted with the winglets introduced on the CL-601-1A.
Canadair CC-144
12 aircraft purchased by the Royal Canadian Air Force, including the CE-144 and CX-144
Canadair CE-144
3 Electronic warfare / EW trainers converted to/from basic CC-144.
Canadair CX-144
2nd prototype, a CL-600-1A11, c/n 1002, allocated to the RCAF after finishing test programme. Used at the Aerospace Engineering and Test Establishment (AETE), CFB Cold Lake until retirement in 1993, now preserved at the National Air Force Museum of Canada. Designated CC-144 in service.


A refined version including winglets to decrease drag and more powerful General Electric CF34-1A (66 built, including six Canadian Forces CC-144B)[11]
601-1A retrofitted with an additional fuel tank in the tail
GE CF34-3A engines with a higher flat rating and a glass cockpit. This was the first version marketed by Bombardier, indeed.
601-3A with an additional, optional fuel tank in the tail
the tail tank was made standard, CF34-3A1 Engines were introduced.
version powered by GE CF34-3A2 engines[12]


A major upgrade of the 601 design, incorporating more advanced GE CF34-3B engines; increased fuel capacity, 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 Rockwell Collins ProLine 4 avionics system.
CL-604 MMA
(Multi-Mission Aircraft), militarized version, developed by Field Aviation,[13] in Danish service.[13] 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.[13]
A single Challenger 604 aircraft was acquired by the United States Coast Guard in December 2005 as its new Medium Range Command and Control Aircraft (MRC2A).[14]


Bombardier Challenger 605 at the Paris Air Show 2007

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.

Boeing Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) on display at 2014 Farnborough Air Show

CL-605 MSA
A maritime patrol aircraft design under development by Boeing.[15] Boeing has proposed a repackaging of some of the Boeing P-8 Poseidon sensors but not weapons into a less expensive airframe, the Bombardier Challenger 605 business jet.[16] This aircraft is named Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) and has been depicted with the AN/APY-10 radar, an electro-optical sensor in a retractable turret, and a magnetic anomaly detector.[17] On 28 February 2014, a MSA demonstrator which is a modified CL-604 made its first flight, but the final aircraft will use the CL-605 airframe.[18][19] The demonstrator currently has the external shapes for the sensors and communications systems which will be added later. The final MSA is expected to cost $55 million to $60 million per aircraft.[20]


CL-610 Challenger E
Proposed as a stretched version for use as a cargo aircraft by Federal Express, or alternatively, as a passenger aircraft with seating for 24 passengers.[21] Federal Express placed orders for 25 CL-610s, but these orders were cancelled after the passage of air cargo deregulation in the U.S. in 1977.[22] 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
Flag of Denmark.svg Denmark
 South Korea
United States

Accidents and incidents

Notable accidents involving Bombardier Challenger 600 aircraft
  • January 5, 2014. A 1994 Challenger crashed while landing at Aspen Airport, CO while travelling from Tucson, AZ.



Data from [25]

General characteristics

  • 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 nmi, 3,875 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 12,500 m (41,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 1,355 m/min (4,450 ft/min)


Data from [26]

General characteristics

  • 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: 45.7 m² (492 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 12,331 kg (27,185 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 21,863 kg (48,200 lb)
  • Useful load: 2,184 kg (4,815 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 21,863 kg (48,200 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × General Electric CF34-3B turbofans, 41.0 kN (9,220 lbf) each


  • Maximum speed: 870 km/h (470 knots, 541 mph)
  • Cruise speed: 850 km/h, (459 knots, 528 mph)
  • Range: 6,878 km (3,714 nmi, 4,274 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 12,500 m (41,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 1,355 m/min (4,450 ft/min)



  1. Rashke 1985, pp. 333–338.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 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. Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the House of Commons for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1982, para. 10.95 to 10.100.
  9. Borins, Stanford F. and Lee Brown. Investments in Failure. New York: Raven Press, 1987. ISBN 0-458-80340-5.
  10. "The Crash of Challenger #1001." Retrieved: 19 September 2012.
  11. Walker, R.R. "CC-144 Challenger detailed list." Canadian Military Aircraft Serial Numbers, Canadian Armed Forces, 2006. Retrieved: 19 September 2012.
  12. CF34-3A2 Engine Upgrade Yields Longer Time on Wing at
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 "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.
  14. Parsch, Andreas. "DOD 4120.15-L - Addendum.", 2011. Retrieved: 19 September 2012.
  15. Hemmerdinger, Jon (10 January 2014). "Boeing's Challenger-based maritime surveillance aircraft nears first flight". Reed Business Information. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  16. Gates, Dominic (5 March 2014). "Boeing’s cheaper surveillance aircraft takes first flight". Seattle Times. Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  17. "Maritime Surveillance Aircraft: Boeing selects a Bombardier 'Bizjet', the Challenger 605, as the preferred airframe for its proposed MSA". Canadian American Strategic Review. July 2013. 
  18. "Boeing Selects Bombardier Business Jet for Maritime Surveillance Aircraft Program". Boeing. 18 November 2013. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  19. "Boeing's MSA Demonstrator Proves Airworthy". Aviation Today. Access Intelligence, LLC.. 5 March 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  20. Hemmerdinger, Jon (5 March 2014). "Field Aviation achieves first flight of Boeing's Maritime Surveillance Aircraft". Reed Business Information. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  21. Logie 1992, pp. 55–57.
  22. "Federal Express: the Memphis Connection." Flight International, 4 April 1981.
  23. Picture of the Canadair CL-600-2B16 Challenger 604 aircraft Retrieved 6 October 2012.
  24. "History of Air Station Washington" USCG. Retrieved: 19 September 2012.
  25. Lambert 1993, pp. 27–28.
  26. "BBA-1425 Factsheet-CL604 En - Bombardier"


  • Lambert, Mark. Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1993-94. Coulsdon, Surry, UK: Jane's Data Division, 1993. ISBN 0-7106-1066-1.
  • Logie, Stuart. Winging it: The Making of Canadair's Challenger. Toronto, Ontario: Macmillan Canada. 1992. ISBN 0-77159-145-4.
  • Pickler, Ron and Larry Milberry. Canadair: The First 50 Years. Toronto: CANAV Books, 1995. ISBN 0-921022-07-7.
  • Rashke, Richard. Stormy Genius: The Life of Aviation's Maverick, Bill Lear. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1985. ISBN 0-395-35372-6.

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