The company was Canadair and the aircraft was its Challenger 600, which made its first flight 40 years ago next month, on 8 November 1978. And that aviation icon who created the original concept – as the "LearStar 600" – was none other than Bill Lear. The Challenger – which become the first aviation asset in the Bombardier product line in August 1986 – was the programme that gave Canadair the right to play in the large-cabin business jet market, and spawned the Global series. It also, of course, was the baseline from which Canadair developed a small airliner to tap what many originally believed was a niche market for regional jets. The aircraft went on to rack up orders well into four digits.
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