Many have wondered what Bombardier’s next step will be to retain the Challenger 605’s best-selling lead in the midsize category of business jets as the type approaches its 1,000th delivery since the aircraft was introduced 1986.

Bombardier’s answer is unveiled here at NBAA: the next Challenger will be the 650, a makeover of the Challenger 605 that was itself rolled out as an evolution in 2006. The new Challenger 650 leans heavily on Bombardier’s experience in evolving the super-midsize Challenger 300 into the 350, with a heavy focus on comfort in the up-to-12-passenger cabin as well as improvements to the flight deck and avionics systems.

“Given the response to the Challenger 350, we said we’ll do the same for the 650. The scope of the changes is very similar,” says Brad Nolen, Bombardier’s director of product planning.

Launch price is $32.35 million in 2015 dollars, up $500,000 from the Challenger 605. That includes up to $1.5 million worth of standard equipment that is available only as options on its nearest competitor, the Falcon 2000 family, says Nolen. First delivery will be in 2Q 2015.

Highlights of the makeover include what Bombardier claims to be most advanced cabin management system in the industry (it’s the fifth Bombardier aircraft to feature Lufthansa Technik’s NICE system that also equips the Learjet 85 and 70/75 and the Challenger 350), the Vision flight deck from the Global 5000/6000 (Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 Advanced), and 5% more takeoff thrust from enhanced GE CF34-3B MTO engines to improve shorter-field takeoff lengths. The thrust boost has no impact on engine life or maintenance, Nolen says.

A new performance feature is the ability to calculate flexible takeoff thrust settings depending on field length, from maximum thrust to reduced power for longer runways or lighter aircraft weights. This is available on the Globals, and is now being introduced on the Challengers.

Standard equipment on the Challenger 650 will include:

Avionics:
• SVS
• FMC performance computation with single e-charts (IFIS)
• ADS-B out
• Lightning detection system
• Flight data recorder
 
Interior:
• Layout with four-place divan
• Second handrail
• Jump seat
• Large galley with a 70% larger oven
• Galley pocket sliding door
• Iridium phone system
• Bulkhead monitor
• CMS with Wi-Fi audio/video on demand and 24-inch monitor

A total of 985 Challenger 600 series aircraft have been delivered since 1986, of which about 960 are still in service.

Asked if the Challenger 650 designation is a “me-too,” following the Cessna Citation 650, Embraer Legacy 650 and Gulfstream 650, Nolen said not at all. “We are following our naming convention, just as we evolved the Challenger 300 into the 350.”