The aircraft was an independent design by Bill Lear in 1976, who had resigned as Chairman of Lear Jet seven years previously. Originally dubbed the LearStar 600, Lear sold exclusive rights to produce and develop the design to Canadair, who renamed it the CL-600 Challenger.
While similar in general configuration to Lear’s previous designs, notable changes were made that distinguished the new aircraft from the Learjetsincluding the use of a widened fuselage that allowed a “walk-about cabin”, a feature not shared by any other business aircraft of the time. The Challenger was also one of the first business jets designed with a super-critical wing.
The CL-600 was originally produced with Avco Lycoming ALF 502L turbofan engines. These turbofan engines were capable of producing 7,500 pounds of thrust per engine. These engines propelled the CL-600 to a maximum airspeed of 561 miles per hour. The CL-600 has a maximum cruising airspeed of 552 miles per hour, and a long range cruising airspeed of 497 miles per hour. A maximum operating altitude of 45,000 feet is attainable in the CL-600, and a maximum range with a reserve of fuel for rapidly changing weather scenarios is 3,912 miles. There were 83 aircraft made with this configuration before it was retrofitted with winglets.
Bombardier built the original Challenger 600 with the primary goal of passenger comfort. Typical cabin configuration was a double club configuration with seating for 8 passengers in two separate areas within the cabin. Various seating options were available with 14, 15, 17, and even 18 passenger, cabin layout designs. It is unusually wide-bodied and can carry up to nineteen passengers in its 8.2 foot wide cabin. While the Challenger 600 is a private jet well-suited for frequent cross-country trips under rigorous conditions, it fails to match the performance capabilities of the upgraded 601-1A. Refinements like a more advanced engine and the addition of winglets make the aircraft capable of transoceanic range.
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