Yet, U.S. operators typically fly the aircraft on missions that average 2 hr. or less because of frequent short trips to shuttle employees or company guests from headquarters to outlying facilities. Large firms with mixed fleets typically load the aircraft with six to eight passengers for most flights and in a year's activity log 300 to 500 hr. per aircraft. Smaller firms, especially ones with one or two aircraft, tend to fly fewer hours and fewer passengers.
Close to 20% of the fleet is based in Europe. That's up from 10% in 2007. The largest number is registered in Austria. Six are operated by Vienna-based Amira Air, a charter firm that also flies a Citation CJ2+, a Challenger 605, a Global 5000 and a Global Express. Vienna-based Avcon Jet operates five Challenger 300s among a fleet of more than 30 aircraft. These aircraft can fly nonstop to any city in Europe, the Middle East or northern Africa.
The Isle of Man ranks a close second in European registrations for tax purposes. Germany ranks third, with most others based in Russia, the U.K. and Switzerland.
The aircraft's popularity is growing in Asia. Eight aircraft are registered in China with five being operated by Shenzhen-based Donghai Jet. These aircraft can fly nonstop to all cities in China, plus most destinations in the Far East.
Four aircraft are registered in Turkey, including two aircraft operated by Palmali Group and one each with Halk Financial Leasing and Cukurova Holding in Istanbul. Three are based in India. Brazilian operators fly nine Challenger 300s, but there are few others based in South America.
Most operators climb the aircraft directly to FL 400 or FL 410 on all but the shortest missions. They cruise at Mach 0.80 or faster. The aircraft burns 2,200 to 2,500 pph the first hour and 1,800, 1,700 and 1,600 pph during subsequent hours. They can comfortably fly the aircraft 5 to 6 hr. A 3,000-nm mission takes about 6+40 and that's a stretch unless there is good weather and plenty of suitable alternates near the destination.
An increasing number of operators are flying the aircraft on international trips. They're loading it with life rafts, provisioning the large galley and adding plenty of passenger amenities. This adds as much as 400 to 800 lb. to empty aircraft weight and reduces tanks-full payload to as few as two to three passengers.
Operators who flew conventional midsize aircraft before they stepped up into the Challenger 300 tend to view it quite favorably. Those who added it to fleets of large-cabin aircraft are more sparing with their praise. But virtually all operators said the aircraft has been remarkably reliable and it's getting better. Dispatch reliability ranked near the top of their five favorite features about the aircraft with both commercial and private operators.
Comparatively low direct operating cost is another strong characteristic. One firm said that it charges back to users a cost per mile that's close to half that of a G550 it operates.
The aircraft has a rugged, semi-mono–coque aluminum airframe and relatively simple systems, not unlike those of a Learjet. The electrical system, for instance, is a 28-volt DC design. But it's powered by long-life brushless generators rather than starter-generators that require overhauling at 1,000 hr. Jet pumps transfer fuel from tank to tank and supply the engines. DC boost pumps supply pressure for starting. The hydraulic system powers the usual utility functions, such as landing gear, thrust reversers and wheel brakes. Unlike that on Learjets, the system also powers the Challenger 300's nosewheel steering and power control actuators for the rudder and elevators. Both aircraft have hydraulically actuated multifunction spoilers.