Bombardier raised the stakes in the hotly contested super-midsize sector with the launch this morning of the Challenger 350.
The 10-seat business jet will be produced alongside the 10-year-old Challenger 300 - the best-selling super-midsize type on the market with deliveries fast approaching 400.
As with its established stablemate, the Challenger 350 will be pitched against Dassault's recently certificated Falcon 2000S, Gulfstream's G280, and the in-development Cessna Citation Longitude when it enters service in 2014.
US fractional ownership giant NetJets was also unveiled this morning as launch customer for the Challenger 350. The Berkshire Hathaway-owned company placed a firm order in June 2012 for 75 of the twinjets as part of a $7.3 billion order for up to 275 "Challenger series" aircraft, which will be customised in its "Signature Series" design.
"The Challenger 350 will take our existing Challenger family to new heights," says Steve Ridolfi, president of Bombardier Business Aircraft.
The aircraft is powered by Honeywell HTF7350 turbofans, each producing 7,323lb (32.57kN) thrust. It has a maximum take-off weight of 40,600lb (18,430kg), while maximum range with eight passengers and two crew is 3,200nm (5,920km) at a long-range speed of Mach 0.8. The aircraft also has a maximum speed of M0.82.
Inside the cockpit, the Challenger 350 boasts the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 Advanced avionics suite, which features four adaptive LCD displays, synthetic vision system, dual inertial reference systems, a paperless cockpit and Multiscan weather radar. "The new avionics will provide pilots with increased situational awareness and reduced pilot workload," says Bombardier.
The Challenger 350 also features Lufthansa Technik's Nice high-definition cabin management system, contemporary seat design, a new modular galley, and what the airframer calls "the industry's most advanced side ledge featuring an authentic metal trim which is a first in business aviation cabin design". The interior will have larger windows than the Challenger 300.
Flight testing of the $25.9 million aircraft is already under way, and Bombardier says the aircraft could eventually replace the Challenger 300 as its sole super-midsize offering if demand for the older type falls significantly. "We will let the market decide," says Bombardier.
The HTF7000-powered Challenger 300 was launched in 1999 and entered service in 2004.
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