Flashback: Challenger Set To Roll in May; Fly in June

 - May 2, 2022, 8:02 AM
ACN May 15, 1978 p.3

With AIN Media Group's Aviation International News and its predecessor Aviation Convention News celebrating the company's 50th year of continuous publication this year, AIN’s editorial staff is going back through the archives each month to bring readers some interesting events that were covered over the past half-century.

REWIND:  (May 15, 1978) Corporate Aviation’s first wide-body business jet, the Challenger CL-600 has been scheduled to roll off Canadair Ltd.’s assembly line at Cartierville, Quebec, on May 25, 1978. First flight has been set for mid-June.

The company has been feverishly working around the clock seven days a week to prevent further slippage of the program’s schedule, already four to six months behind dates projected last year.

The new eight- to 14-passenger, 3,800 nmi business jet has a supercritical wing and two Lycoming high-bypass (5:1) turbofans that develop 7,500 lbs. of thrust each.

Its introduction figures to be a historic ­­­­­one in that it will be the first completely new design in corporate aviation since the Falcon 10 was developed eight years ago.

At this time Canadair has 91 deposits on the CL-600, including 21 from TAG Finance S.A., a distributor for the Challenger in the Arab League countries.

FAST-FORWARD: The Challenger began its life as the LearStar 600, a concept by Bill Lear that was acquired by Canadair. Lear remained as a consultant on the project but the legendary designer, whose Learjets helped usher in the era of private jet aviation, did not live to see the May 25 rollout of the aircraft, passing away just nine days before at the age of 75.

The Challenger 600 which first flew in November, 1978, entered service two years later and became the progenitor of the large-cabin business jet class. The 600-series has remained in production for more than four decades, with Bombardier having delivered 1,110 through to today’s Challenger 650 model.