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Challenger 300 makes its service entry with Flexjet

GRAHAM WARWICK / WASHINGTON DC

Super mid-size jet debut coincides with first flight of second Global 5000 test aircraft

Bombardier's Challenger 300 super mid-size business jet has entered service with the company's Flexjet fractional-ownership programme. The milestone coincided with the maiden flight of the second Global 5000 test aircraft, less than two years after Bombardier launched development of the super-large business jet.

The first of 25 aircraft on order began flying share owners on 8 January, after a series of route-proving flights following its delivery in late December.

Flexjet says it has already sold the equivalent of 18-19 full Challenger 300s to share owners, some of which are new to the programme, while others are moving from other aircraft types in the fractional scheme. Flexjet ended 2003 with 100 aircraft and 760 owners, virtually unchanged from a year earlier.

Dallas, Texas-based Flexjet is preparing to take delivery of its first Bombardier Learjet 40 light jets. The first two aircraft - both of which have been presold - are due to be in service by the end of February. The Learjet 40 will replace the Learjet 31 as Flexjet's entry-level offering.

During its first flight on 8 January, meanwhile, the second Global 5000 aircraft made a 4h flight from the Canadian company's Toronto facility, reaching an altitude of 17,000ft (5,200m) and an airspeed of 340kt (630km/h). The aircraft, a derivative of the ultra-long-range Global Express with a shorter fuselage and reduced fuel capacity, will be delivered to Bombardier's completion centre in Montreal this month for the installation of a production standard interior.

The aircraft will then re-enter flight testing, Bombardier says, to validate the environmental control system and test for interior function and reliability. The first Global 5000 test aircraft has completed 100 flights. The $33.5 million aircraft is scheduled for certification this quarter.

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