Bombardier Tuesday morning unveiled a new look and branding for its venerable Challenger 300/350 family that brings it in line with the Global nomenclature, borrows from some of the high-end interior features from its flagship Global 7500, and adds new equipment, including an autothrottle.
Revealed during an event at its facilities in Montreal that featured a mockup in the bronze and gold livery used during the Global 5500/6500 launch, the Challenger 3500 builds on the 350 and eventually will replace it on the production line, the company said. Nearly 250 gathered for the rollout event that drew local and industry leaders, customers and the leadership and board of Bombardier, including chairman emeritus Laurent Beaudoin and chairman Pierre Beaudoin.
Bombardier president and CEO Éric Martel, who joined the current chairman in the formal launch ceremony, said the 3500 “features all the best-selling elements of the Challenger platform—impressive performance, consistent reliability, exceptional smooth ride—while elevating the cabin experience for our customers.”
Bombardier president and CEO Eric Martel (l) joined chairman Pierre Beaudoin in formerly launching the Challenger 3500. (Photo: Kerry Lynch/AIN)
To be available in the second half of 2022 and offered at the same $26.7 million list price of the Challenger 350, the 3500 will introduce features such as voice-controlled cabin management features and wireless charging.
The 3500 will retain the engines, avionics, and performance of its predecessor super-midsize business jet. But the new Safe Flight autothrottle will ease control and pilot workload, said Mathieu St-Cyr, manager of sales engineering.
Bombardier took a holistic approach to the cabin considering comfort, the connected passenger, wellness, styling, and sustainability, the company said.
“We wanted to make sure we embedded a lot of the newer technology that people expect these days in their cars and their home—such as wireless charging,” said Laurence Casia, manager of industrial design and cabin innovation. “There’s a lot of amenities that are becoming expectation but are still rare in business aircraft. So, we’re introducing a lot of those features. And we really wanted to emphasize comfort, but not just for comfort sake, but also for productivity.”
This approach is particularly important for “concept” buyers—the non-fleet owners—and new buyers coming into the market, he said.
Bombardier is bringing its Nuage seats to the Challenger 3500. (Photo: Bombardier)
For comfort, Bombardier is bringing in its hallmark Nuage seats—first introduced in the Global 7500 and later into the Global 5500 and 6500—into the Challenger 3500 but designed them to fit a super-midsize cabin. The seats use a patented tilt link system to provide a deep recline position for additional comfort, as well as a “floating base” for ease of movement and tilted headrest.
Offered in four double-club configuration or with an optional divan replacing two of the seats, the Challenger 3500 Nuages are contoured, taking away a “boxy” look found with traditional business jet seats and providing a feeling of wider aisles. The seats also were shaped to enable the passenger to curl their feet underneath, which Casia said is a more natural approach for customers to sit.
The divan is fitted with pull-out drawers at either end that can be used for storage of drinks and snacks. The drawers are positioned so the passenger can easily open without having to struggle to reach down.
Bombardier redesigned the forward galley, incorporating features such as a see-through wine cooler and crystal holder showcased as passengers board. The workspace was altered to enable a large espresso machine along with an oven, that can be hidden behind a tri-fold door. In addition, new soft-close drawers with pulls make them easier to open.
The cabin management system incorporates new capabilities such as voice-activated controls for everything from lighting to sound and media that can play on 24-inch, 4K displays. Voice activation works through a CMS app on passengers’ personal devices. Meanwhile, the wireless charging pads are folded into side ledges adjacent to the forward-facing seats.
In addition, Bombardier is incorporating an approach to the sound system borrowed from the Global 7500 that includes controls that will enable a “sweet spot” sound experience that is optimized around where a passenger is seated.
On the wellness side, Bombardier is lowering the cabin altitude by 2,000 feet, to 4,850 feet, at FL410, marking a 31 percent improvement. This was accomplished through reviews of technical materials and testing but also a reinforcement of the bulkhead.
As for sustainability, Bombardier is marking its second full aircraft Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) with the Challenger 3500. It obtained its initial EPD for the Global 7500 in June 2020, marking a first in business aviation. Third-party verified to international ISO standards, the EPD discloses detailed environmental information about a product’s lifecycle, such as CO2 emissions, noise, water consumption, and other key environmental impact indicators.
Flight testing on the newest Challenger 3500 cabin is carbon neutral through the use of sustainable aviation fuel and carbon offsets.
Bombardier further is offering an eco app for the Challenger 3500 developed by SITA to enable flight crews to optimize flight plans to reduce fuel burn. The app will use data from the aircraft’s health monitoring unit, which comes standard on the 3500.
Notably, Bombardier is also employing the use of more sustainable materials in the cabin finishings. This includes veneers from eucalyptus trees, which grow faster and require less water. Other examples are the use of “upcycled” wool and polyesters that are reclaimed from manufacturing processes. Still others are under evaluation such as the use of flax and hemp in materials.
At the same time, Bombardier folds in curves in the lines throughout the cabin as a nod to the Challenger winglet and incorporates the looks and feels of high-end automobiles.
The 3500 will retain a number of the enhancements that Bombardier has made to the Challenger 350 since its introduction into the market in 2014. This includes double-layering of insulation for a quieter cabin, head-up display and enhanced vision on the flight deck, a performance package that enabled the aircraft to fly 1,500 nm farther out of short runways, and optional Ka-band connectivity.
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