LHT finishing Challenger 850

 - November 28, 2006, 12:38 PM

Lufthansa Technik is celebrating the arrival at its Hamburg base of the fifth Challenger 850 executive jet. Another dozen are due in the coming months as the result of Bombardier’s initial order for 17, and demand is so brisk that Midcoast Aviation will be completing additional airframes to the LHT design.

Launched here at the EBACE show last year but formally contracted only last November at the National Business Aviation Association’s sister event in Orlando, the Challenger 850 executive is a 15-seater with airliner headroom, transcontinental range and a price tag in the region of $29 million.

LHT (Booth No. 744) is on course to deliver the first example in July to a European customer, with subsequent deliveries following every couple of months. All five of the airplanes currently in Hamburg should be in the hands of customers by the end of the year. Bob Horner, Bombardier’s vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said Monday that demand is particularly high in Russia, where the program has already won nine customers, and he expects demand to intensify once the airplane is in service.

The Challenger 850 has a particular place in the heart of Lufthansa Technik’s Bernhard Conrad, who was running the Lufthansa maintenance base at Berlin Schönefeld when the German carrier launched the 850’s airliner ancestor, the CRJ200. Service bulletin work on that airplane laid the foundations for the establishment of Lufthansa Bombardier Aviation Services (LBAS) at the airfield, and ultimately to the current program. And, as Conrad said, the 17 scheduled so far are just the beginning.    –B.F.