The Challenger 800, first introduced in 1997, was reincarnated as the Challenger 850 eight years later. The Challenger 850, currently priced at $29.097 million, can fly with very large loads, but lacks the impressive range of the Challenger 800. Both Challenger private jets are high-performing, well-made private jets with differing areas of strength and weakness.
The interior dimensions of the Challenger 800 and 850 are identical: 48.4 feet long, 6.1 feet high, and 8.2 feet wide. There is a slight increase in baggage capacity in the 850, which has a 202 cubic foot storage space, and the 800, which has a 195 cubic foot space. Both private jets can be configured to carry between 15 and 19 passengers, although the Challenger 850 is also available in a CS (Corporate Shuttle) model, which fits between 27 and 50 passengers, costs $4.5 million less, and has significant design and performance differences.
Both private jets use the same CF34-3B1 engines, which produce 8,729 pounds of thrust apiece on takeoff and have on-condition inspection intervals. The most important change made to the Challenger 800 is an alteration to its weight. The maximum payload of the 800 was originally 5,660 pounds, but was increased to 9,833 pounds in the Challenger 850. This alteration is not of much use flying tanks-full: available payload when the Challenger 800’s tanks are filled to capacity is 1,105 pounds and just 778 pounds for the Challenger 850.
The weight adjustments on the Challenger 850 work out to an overall 2,000 pound increase from the Challenger 800’s 53,000 pound maximum takeoff weight. The additional burden lengthens the runway requirements of the Challenger 800, particularly under hot/high conditions. At sea level and a standard temperature of 59°F, the Challenger 800 and 850 take off in 6,295 feet 6,305 feet, respectively. When the runway is raised to an altitude of 5,000 feet and the temperature to 71°F, the Challenger 800 requires 9,545 feet to take off, and the 850 needs 11,344 feet.
The Challenger 850’s prospects improve significantly after it leaves the tarmac. It can climb to 37,000 feet in 32 minutes; just 3 minutes longer than the Challenger 800 would spend to reach the same altitude. Once at cruising altitude, one of the Challenger 850’s areas of strength, its range, becomes apparent. NBAA IFR range with four passengers and a 200 nm alternate for the Challenger 800 is 2,959 nautical miles, which the Challenger 850 beats by a modest margin of 132 nm for a total of 3,091 nautical miles. When carrying its maximum payload, however, the Challenger 800 an fly 2,071 nautical miles, while the Challenger 850’s significantly larger payload would limit it to flying just 1,116 nautical miles.
Cruise speeds for the two private jets are fairly similar, as is their performance on long-range trips. For a 1,000 nautical mile journey with four passengers, crew, and required NBAA IFR reserves, both aircraft would reach the destination in an estimated 2 hours and 22 minutes. The Challenger 800 would burn 5,443 pounds of fuel, slightly more than the 850’s fuel burn of 5,277 pounds. Estimated runway requirements would differ by a negligible 20 feet.
In summary, both the Challenger 800 and 850 deliver high levels of performance in their respective areas of strength. The Challenger 850 is best for hauling heavy loads, with a maximum payload of 9,833 pounds. The Challenger 800, on the other hand, is best on long-range missions, able to carry four passengers and fly 2,959 nautical miles.