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Challenger 650 pressed into service for COVID-19 repatriation


May 13, 2020
By Wings Staff


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Jetflite flew its new Bombardier Challenger 650 completed its first 100 hours in just 14 days after delivery. (Photo: Bombardier)

Bombardier Aviation and Finnish charter operator Jetflite today revealed details of how a recently delivered Challenger 650 business jet was immediately pressed into service to repatriate dozens of patients impacted by COVID-19. As a result, Bombardier explains the Challenger 650 performed its first 100 hours in just 14 days after delivery.

The airplane on March 26, 2020, was delivered for executive charter to long-time Bombardier customer Wihuri Group, a large Finnish industrial conglomerate. The aircraft is operated by Jetflite, which is owned by Wihuri Group.

“Our Jetflite fleet is always busy, but completing the first 100 hours inside 14 days directly out of the factory was something of a record, even for us, particularly in light of the challenges in flight route planning, obtaining diplomatic clearances and booking risk-free crew accommodation during the spread of COVID-19,” said Elina Karjalainen, managing director, Jetflite. “We are very proud to have this impressive new aircraft in our fleet, and to be able to help so many people, as we wait for better days ahead.”

On its longest tour, the aircraft traversed three continents – touching down in 10 countries – in five days, flying from its base in Helsinki, Finland, to Portugal, Italy, Mali, Canary Islands, Liberia, South Africa, Seychelles, Afghanistan and Estonia to repatriate citizens to their home countries.

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Bombardier explains the adaptability of the Challenger 650 aircraft interior allows Jetflite to transform the business jet’s 12-to-16-passenger configuration to an air ambulance configuration, complete with two stretchers, a portable isolation unit, personal protective equipment, COVID-19 test kits and a medical team. The aircraft also holds strong short-field performance and a range of 4,000 nm (7,408 km).