Bombardier is a Canadian aerospace company that produces small to medium-sized business jets. Many of these are in the “Challenger” series, which consists of several aircraft of different sizes and types.
One of the best-known of these is the Bombardier Challenger 300, an 8 – 16 seater jet that was first produced in 2004 after Bombardier had realized that there was a significant gap between mid-size aircraft and large jets. The Challenger 300 was designed to fill that space.
The Challenger 300 has now been superseded to some extent by the more powerful Challenger 350, and it is no longer manufactured. But there are still many Challenger 300s flying, and the type is generally well-liked and popular.
It is fairly inexpensive, at least by private jet standards, so it appeals to private owners who might not be able to afford many of the larger jets on the market.
And for those who cannot buy one outright, “fractional ownership”, or buying a share in a Challenger 300, has always been a popular alternative. This fractional ownership scheme, arranged by Bombardier itself, has proved extremely successful.
So now let’s take a look at this entry-level business jet in more detail.
Bottom Line Up Front
The Bombardier Challenger 300 is a medium-sized business jet aircraft, that has remained popular to the present day, despite being largely superseded by the Challenger 350 in 2014. It is fairly inexpensive by jet standards, and fractional ownership is also offered, so it is suitable for pilots who are moving up from simpler aircraft.
It has proved relatively easy to fly, very safe, and highly versatile, suitable both for flying into airfields with comparatively short runways or undertaking a transatlantic trip. Overall, if you are looking for a first jet aircraft, this one could be well worth considering.
Here are most of the specifications that are usually quoted for the Bombardier Challenger 300. However, many pre-owned examples have been modified, sometimes quite extensively.
- Exterior Height: 20 ft 4 in
- Wing Span: 63 ft 10 in
- Length: 68 ft 8 in
- Cabin Height: 6 ft 1 In
- Cabin Width: 7 ft 2 In
- Cabin Length: 28 ft 7 In
- Cabin Volume: 860 cu ft
- Door Height: 6 ft 2 In
- Door Width: 2 ft 6 In
- Internal Baggage: 106 cu ft
- Crew: 2
- Passengers: 8-16
- Max T/O Weight: 38850 Lb
- Max Landing Weight: 33750 Lb
- Operating Weight: 23850 Lb
- Empty Weight: 23349 Lb
- Fuel Capacity: 14045 lbs Lb
- Payload W/Full Fuel: 1105 Lb
- Max Payload: 3350 Lb
- Normal Range: 3065 nm
- Max Range: 3340 nm
- Service Ceiling: 45000 ft
- Balanced Field Length: 4810 ft
- Landing Distance: 3833 ft
- Rate of Climb: 5000 fpm
- Climb Rate One Engine Inop: 474 fpm
- Max Speed: 476 kts
- Normal Cruise: 459 kts
- Economy Cruise: 459 kts
- Cost per Hour: $ 3,281.73
- Engines: 2
- Engine Mfg: Honeywell Engines
- Engine Model: HTF 7000
At the time of the cessation of production in 2014, a new Bombardier Challenger 300 would have set you back around $24 million. Although this might seem expensive to those unfamiliar with private jets, it is actually at the lower end of the price scale.
However, as stated above, no new Challenger 300s have been built since 2014. So now the only Challenger 300s available will be second-hand ones. Prices of these vary substantially, depending mainly on their age and condition.
To give you some idea of prices, an example from the early part of the 21st century will probably cost you about $7 million, which is a bargain in jet terms.
One built around 2007 to 2010 will most likely sell for around $8 million, again depending on the age, plus the condition and number of hours flown. Or you could get a more recent one, manufactured between 2011 and 2014, for up to $10 million.
Performance and Handling
Compared to other jets of this size, the Challenger 300’s range, at 3527 miles, is exceptionally good. And although a good range often means cruise speed is reduced, this is not the case for the Challenger 300, which has a cruising speed of 541 miles per hour, making it somewhat faster than many of its competitors.
It is also very safe, with only six Challenger 300s having ever been involved in an accident, and only one recorded fatality. And while even one death is too many, this is an exceptionally good record. The Challenger 300 is also very comfortable, particularly if you only have eight passengers – the maximum number it can carry is sixteen, but this could be a little cramped.
When it comes to flying, the Challenger 300 is extremely versatile. It copes well with almost all conditions, from snowy mountains to deserts. It is even good, for a jet, on short runways, and is capable of landing on a runway shorter than 5000 meters. This means it is extremely adaptable.
It is useful for long-distance flights, which is what it is often used for. It can easily fly coast to coast in the US and is also used for transcontinental flights. But if on arrival you want to land at a small airport with a fairly short runway, it will cope well with that too.
Pilots will like the advanced avionics system and also the IFIS (Integrated Flight Information System). And although it might sound rather basic, it is also worth mentioning the Challenger 300’s braking system. Pilots report that this is excellent, which is necessary if you want to land on a short field.
So overall, the performance and handling of the Challenger 300 are first-rate, at any airport from a short field to an international airport. This makes it still an aircraft well worth considering, even though the newer Challenger 350 is an improved version.
As the Challenger 300 is a popular business jet and very well-known, several companies offer regular maintenance when it is required. One of these is Constant Aviation, which has many locations and offers all required servicing on most Challenger models.
All their technicians are FAA-certified and are trained experts on Challengers. They are happy to do any maintenance, whether scheduled or unscheduled.
In 2013 Bombardier increased the maintenance intervals on several of their business jets, including the Challenger 300. These changes were welcomed by owners, since they meant less downtime and decreased maintenance costs overall, with no change to the safety of the aircraft. These improvements to the maintenance schedule have now been accepted worldwide.
Modifications and Upgrades
Since the Challenger 300 proved to be so popular, Bombardier produced several variants. The best-known of the variants is an upgraded version, called the Challenger 350, which was first flown in 2013. The improvements in the Challenger 350 included a newly updated cockpit and an upgraded interior.
In addition, the Challenger 350 had newer Honeywell HTF7350 engines, which proved to be more fuel-efficient. And there was also a FADEC (Fuel Authority Digital Engine Control) system, which would make start-up an easier process.
However, if you simply want modifications to your existing Challenger 300, several companies offer a variety of options. To take one example, Collins Aerospace can fit more advanced avionics systems, and also enhanced flight management systems.
And Bombardier itself offers advanced navigation systems, plus enhanced cabin features designed for more luxury and comfort.
Where to Find Replacement Parts
Bombardier stocks parts for the Challenger 300, as they do for all their aircraft. But you do not need to buy from them if you do not wish to. There are several other companies ready to provide Challenger 300 parts, as a quick internet search will show.
This particular mid-sized jet has been around for a long time, and obtaining parts from it should not be a problem.
You might think an aircraft as popular as the Challenger 300 would have few or no problems. There are not many issues, it is true. But there have been some that have surfaced over the years.
- Engine inlet corrosion has been an ongoing and expensive problem in the Challenger 300. However, a solution has now been found; one company offers the “Carbon Graphite Composite Barrel”, which is said to completely deal with the issue.
- When it comes to flying, there have been some stabilizer trim incidents, necessitating the replacement of some trim switches.
However, apart from those mentioned above, there seem to be hardly any problems associated with the Challenger 300.
As with all aircraft, insurance for the Challenger 300 comes in two parts. Liability insurance covers accidents and incidents, and hull insurance covers damage to the aircraft itself.
But while cheaper aircraft owners might be happy to have liability insurance alone, owners of jet aircraft such as the Challenger 300 are highly likely to want to cover the large investment they have made in a jet aircraft, and therefore buy hull insurance too.
At the start of 2021, there were eight companies offering Bombardier Challenger insurance in the US. They tended to prefer experienced pilots for obvious reasons and defined ‘experienced’ as having a Commercial License and IFR rating, 3000 total flying hours, and a minimum of 50 hours in the Challenger 300.
For these pilots, a typical quote for liability plus hull insurance would be $16,000 – $18,500 per year. For pilots with fewer qualifications, a quote is likely to be at least double those figures. Of course, liability-only coverage would be a lot less, with typical quotes ranging from $1500 – $1800 for experienced pilots, and significantly more for inexperienced flyers.
As there are no new Challenger 300s, older models tend to keep their value. As would be expected, prices will depend on the age of the plane, plus the number of hours it has flown and how well it has been cared for. So there are a wide variety of prices, with pre-owned Challenger 300s generally costing from $7 million to well over $20 million.
And as with most things, you are likely to get what you pay for! Bargains in aircraft sales are few. If you should find a Challenger 300 costing significantly less than this, check it out carefully, asking the opinion of an expert.
Owners and pilots are generally very positive about the Challenger 300. It has been described as demonstrating an “improved flying experience”, and pilots like its advanced avionics systems as much as its performance.
One owner described his Challenger 300 as a “real beauty”, and followed this up by saying that there were many things he liked about the aircraft besides its good looks. He particularly mentioned the pilot’s checklist, the ease of start-up, and the climb performance.
Indeed, there seemed to be little that was disliked about the Challenger 300. I was unable to find any negative reviews, despite extensive internet research.
Of course, the aircraft that is most similar to the Challenger 300 is its newer version, the Challenger 350. This is not very different but does have more power and better avionics.
However, if you are interested in similar mid-sized jets outside of the Bombardier stable, there are two which come to mind: the Gulfstream G200 and the Dassault Falcom 2000. So let’s take a look at the similarities and differences between these two aircraft and the Challenger 300.
- The Challenger 300 and Falcon 2000 both have a similar price. The Gulfstream G200, however, is somewhat cheaper.
- When it comes to landing on short fields, the Challenger 300 and Falcon 200 need a similar runway length, but the Gulfstream G200 requires much more space.
- All three of these aircraft have a similar range, but the Challenger 300 has a slightly faster cruising speed than the other two types – enough to make a difference on long trips.
- The Challenger 300 and Gulfstream G200 both cost less to run than the Falcon 2000.
Confused? You may be since overall these three aircraft are fairly similar. Which one you choose depends to a large extent on the factors you consider of the most importance.
Clubs You Can Join
There are, on the whole, fewer clubs for owners of private jets than for those of smaller aircraft. I could not find any membership organizations relating specifically to the Challenger 300, or indeed to Bombardier aircraft overall. There are, however, several clubs for owners of private jets of any type, and these could well be worth joining.
They tend to offer fractional ownership, so that aircraft availability is possible without the expense of owning a jet aircraft outright. The best-known of these is Netjets, which offers several membership options.
In addition, there are several Bombardier Challenger groups on Facebook, though these are not exclusively for owners. But they could well be quite interesting and useful.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Can a Challenger 300 Fly from the US to Europe?
Answer: The Challenger 300 is easily capable of flying from the US to any European destination, with up to 16 passengers, though 8-10 would be far more comfortable for such a long flight.
Question: Is the Challenger 300 a Single-pilot Aircraft?
Answer: No. Two pilots are required for flights in this aircraft. This is a legal requirement.
Question: Which is better, the Challenger 300 or the Gulfstream G200?
Answer: They are very similar, with each having certain slight advantages and disadvantages. This is discussed at greater length in the section “Similar Aircraft” in this article.
Question: Is the Challenger 350 very Different from the Challenger 300?
Answer: The 350 is a later development of the Challenger 300, and it has more powerful engines and a faster cruise speed. But on the whole, it is fairly similar.
The Challenger 300 is a suitable aircraft for a pilot looking for a first jet, who has previously flown simpler planes but is now looking to move on. He or she will find the type relatively inexpensive to buy, easy to fly (by jet standards), and suitable for all sorts of flights and destinations.
If this sounds like you, then the Challenger 300 could certainly be worth looking at in greater detail. And if you do decide to take the plunge and buy one, then happy flying!
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