Bombardier Transforms Challenger 350 Into Challenger 3500 

Bombardier's new Challenger 3500. Photo credit: Bombardier

MONTREAL-Bombardier unveiled the Challenger 3500 at a gala ceremony Sept. 14 inside its facility in Dorval, Quebec, with a mockup showcasing the upgraded Challenger 350 super midsized business jet with a redesigned cabin and focus on sustainability.

The Challenger 3500 includes new technologies, such as voice-controlled lighting, temperature and sound, wireless chargers, sustainable fabrics and woods, and Bombardier’s patented Nuage seating found in Bombardier’s Global 7500 ultra-long-range jet. The $26.7 million aircraft, priced the same as the Challenger 350, will enter service in the second half of 2022. 

The focus on the cabin comes as a growing number of passengers turn to private aviation rather than the airlines during the pandemic. They enter the market expecting the same technology found in their homes and offices. 

The aircraft also gives Bombardier the opportunity to showcase its sustainability efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.  

“We are thrilled to launch a business jet that 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,” says Eric Martel, Bombardier president and CEO. “Building on the success of the unrivalled Global 7500 business jet cabin, the Challenger 3500 aircraft prioritizes what our customers value most: a truly exceptional cabin experience.” 

Martel, in an interview with the Aviation Week Network, said he is emotionally attached to the Challenger 350. He was president of Bombardier’s business jet division when the company launched the product in 2014. It’s a popular aircraft with a 50% market share, he says.

“We’re happy,” Martel says. “We take what’s already the leading airplane in the category and are making it even better. We believe the market is going to be excited.” 

The mockup will head to the National Business Aviation Association’s Convention & Exhibition in Las Vegas in October and showcased at Bombardier’s static display at the Henderson Executive Airport. 

The aircraft’s wide cross section, 6 ft. tall cabin and flat floor makes the interior “great to work with,” says Laurence Casia, Bombardier manager of industrial design and cabin innovation. 

Some elements from the Global 7500 are reflected in the Challenger 3500. 

Bombardier’s Nuage seating, designed in a seven-year project for the Global 7500, was given refined proportions for the aircraft, a first for the super mid-size jet segment, the company says. (Nuage is the French word for cloud.)  

Challenger 3500 interior
Challenger 3500 features Nuage seats. Photo credit: Bombardier

“Customers have been asking us about this almost from the beginning, when we debuted it on the 7500,” says Louise Solomita, a Bombardier spokesperson. “How can I have this seat?” 

Inside the mockup, seating and a redesigned divan were upholstered with upcycled fabrics and leathers, while the cabin’s wood veneers were produced from eucalyptus trees, a renewable tree that takes a low amount of water to grow. Products will be responsibly sourced and tested. Customers will have the choice of traditional materials as well. 

Each seat includes a deep-recline and patented tilt-link system that dips the rear of the seat pan below the hips as the back reclines for comfort. The headrest tilts forward and raises and lowers for support and to fit passengers of various sizes and heights. The seats are installed without visible floor rails on a “floating base.”

Other upgrades include the use of voice control to manage lighting, temperature and entertainment systems, wireless chargers throughout the cabin, 24-in displays, new LED lighting and a redesigned sound system. 

The Challenger 3500 will create a feeling of wellness to lower concerns about traveling during COVID, officials say. It is designed to lower cabin altitude 31% compared to the Challenger 350, meaning passengers will feel they are at Denver’s altitude while flying at 41,000 ft. 

“That’s going to make a difference on how you feel when you get off the plane,” Solomita says. In addition, cabin air will be replaced continuously in less than two minutes. 

It will be the first in the super-midsize segment to receive an Environmental Product Declaration, which outlines the Challenger 3500’s life-cycle environmental footprint, Bombardier says. 

The aircraft will be manufactured inside facilities powered by hydroelectricity, and its Wichita flight test program will operate carbon neutral through the purchase of sustainable alternative fuel and use of carbon offsets. 

In the cockpit, Bombardier is introducing a standard-equipped auto-throttle system and an eco app to help operators optimize their flight plans to reduce fuel burn and carbon emissions. 

The Challenger 3500 features Honeywell HTF7350 engines and Collins Pro Line 21 Advanced avionics system and offer the same range, weight, performance and reliability of the Challenger 350, officials say. The company also tweaked the aircraft’s published range from 3,200 nm at full fuel to 3,400 nm to align with the industry standard, officials say.

Bombardier’s Challenger 350 has had a long history with incremental upgrades. It was introduced in 1999 as the Continental and entered service in 2004. Its name was later changed to the Challenger 300 before it was upgraded as the Challenger 350. 

Molly McMillin

Molly McMillin, a 25-year aviation journalist, is managing editor of business aviation for the Aviation Week Network and editor-in-chief of The Weekly of Business Aviation, an Aviation Week market intelligence report.