Embraer Praetor 600 vs Bombardier Challenger 3500

How do the Embraer Praetor 600 and Bombardier Challenger 3500 compare side-by-side? What are the advantages offered by each model? Mike Chase analyses the performance and productivity parameters.

Mike Chase  |  01st March 2024
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    Mike Chase
    Mike Chase

    Michael Chase owns Chase & Associates, an aviation consulting firm specialized in industry product...

    Embraer Praetor 600 vs Bombardier Challenger 3500

    Over the following paragraphs we’ll consider key productivity parameters for the Embraer Praetor 600 and Bombardier Challenger 3500 (including payload, range, speed, cabin size and more) to establish which aircraft provides the better value in the Super Mid-size Business Jet market.

    Is a higher price and range preferable to lower operating costs with more cabin volume? It is hoped that the following jet comparison will help clarify.

    Embraer Praetor 600

    The Praetor 600 replaced the Legacy 500 on Embraer’s production line in 2019. As an upgrade on its predecessor, it incorporates two tanks on the fuselage belly to allow for an additional 2,928lbs fuel, and utilizes more powerful Honeywell HTF 7500E engines.

    The flight deck incorporates a Collins Pro Line Fusion flight deck, while the Cabin Management System is Honeywell’s Ovation Select.

    As of this writing, there were a total of 89 Praetor 600 business jets in operation, including 78 wholly owned units, ten in fractional ownership programs, and one in shared ownership. North America accounted for the largest fleet percentage (62%), followed by Europe (28%).

    Bombardier Challenger 3500

    Introduced as an upgrade on the Challenger 350, Bombardier’s Challenger 3500 offers improvements that are largely centered on its technology.

    Though it has the same dimensions and Honeywell HTF 7350 engines as the CL350, the Challenger 3500 offers the industry’s first voice-controlled cabin. And with a flight deck built around the Collin Pro Line 21 suite, the aircraft comes standard equipped with an autothrottle.

    At the time of writing, there were 59 Challenger 3500 business jets in operation around the world, including 42 wholly owned, 15 fractionally owned, and two in shared ownership. North America was home to 90% of the fleet.

    Payload Comparison

    When comparing business jets, an important area for potential operators to focus on is payload capability, and especially the ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’.

    Table A shows the Embraer Praetor 600’s ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’ to be 2,194lbs, which is more than the 1,905lbs offered by the Challenger 3500.

    Table A - Embraer Praetor 600 vs Bombardier Challenger 3500 Payload Comparison

    Cabin Comparison

    As shown in Chart A, both jets offer a cabin height of 6.2ft. However, the Bombardier Challenger 3500 cabin is wider (7.2ft versus 6.8ft).

    Chart A - Embraer Praetor 600 vs Bombardier Challenger 3500 Cabin Comparison

    Not depicted in the cross-section, the Challenger 3500 also has slightly more cabin length than the Praetor 600 (25.2ft. versus 24.1ft), culminating in the Challenger 3500 offering more overall cabin volume (930cu.ft versus 705cu.ft). The cabin volume measurements include the net main seating area but exclude the lavatory.

    The Challenger 3500 also has more internal luggage volume (106cu.ft vs 45cu.ft), although the Praetor 600 has 110cu.ft additional external baggage space, whereas the Challenger 3500 has none.

    Range Comparison

    Using Wichita, Kansas as the start point, Chart B depicts the Embraer Praetor 600 with 4,018nm range carrying four passengers and available fuel. By comparison, the Bombardier Challenger 3500 offers 3,377nm range.

    Chart B - Embraer Praetor 600 vs Bombardier Challenger 3500 Range Comparison

    Note: For business jets, ‘Four Pax Range’ represents the maximum IFR range of the aircraft at long range cruise. The NBAA IFR fuel reserve calculation is for a 200nm alternate. This range does not include winds aloft or any other weather-related obstacles.

    Powerplant Details

    As mentioned, the Praetor 600 is powered by two Honeywell HTF7500E engines providing 7,528 pounds of thrust each, and burning 258 gallons of fuel/hour (gal/hr). By comparison, the Challenger 3500 has two Honeywell HTF7350 engines producing 7,323lbst each and burning 239gal/hr.

    Cost per Mile Comparison

    Chart C details the ‘Cost per Mile’ for each jet, as sourced from JETNET, factoring direct costs and with both aircraft flying a 1,000nm mission with an 800lbs (four passengers) payload. The Embraer Praetor 600 costs $6.22/nm, which is slightly lower than the Bombardier Challenger 3500 ($6.34/nm).

    Chart C - Embraer Praetor 600 vs Bombardier Challenger 3500 Cost Per Mile Comparison

    Variable Cost Comparison

    The ‘Variable Cost’ illustrated in Chart D is defined as the estimated cost of fuel, maintenance labor, scheduled parts, and miscellaneous trip expenses (e.g., hangar, crew and catering), and is derived from JETNET data.

    These costs DO NOT represent a direct source into every flight department and their trip support expenses. For comparative purposes, the costs presented are the relative differences, not the actual differences since these may vary from one flight department to another.

    Chart D - Embraer Praetor 600 vs Bombardier Challenger 3500 Variable Cost Comparison

    At $1,851 per hour, the Bombardier Challenger 3500 has a 4% lower variable cost compared to the Embraer Praetor 600 ($1,925/hr).

    Market Comparison

    Table B contains the 2023 prices for each aircraft (per Aircraft Bluebook Winter 2023 data). Also, listed are the long-range cruise speed and range numbers (per B&CA), while the number of aircraft in-operation, the percentage for sale, and average sold are from JETNET.

    Table B - Embraer Praetor 600 vs Bombardier Challenger 3500 Market Comparison

    The average number of new/used transactions (units sold) per month over the previous 12 months is two for the Praetor 600 and 3.8 for the Challenger 3500.

    Pre-Owned Aircraft Market Trends

    There were two Embraer Praetor 600 business jets available for sale on the used aircraft market as of this writing with one showing an asking price of $23.45m and the other asking $25m - both were 2022 models. By comparison, there was one 2023-model Bombardier Challenger 3500 available for sale with an asking price of $24.35m.

    Clearly supply and demand on the pre-owned markets is tight enough with these two models to justify sellers asking premium prices. Whether they will achieve their desired price will ultimately be subject to negotiation with buyers.

    While each aircraft serial number is unique, the Airframe Total Time (AFTT) and age/condition will cause great variation in the price of a specific aircraft – even between two aircraft from the same year of manufacture. These will all factor in a buyer’s counter offer.

    Depreciation Schedule

    Aircraft that are owned and operated by businesses are often depreciable for income tax purposes under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS). Under MACRS, taxpayers can use accelerated depreciation of assets by taking a greater percentage of the deductions during the first few years of the applicable recovery period.

    In certain cases, aircraft may not qualify under the MACRS system and must be depreciated under the less favorable Alternative Depreciation System (ADS), based on a straight-line method meaning that equal deductions are taken during each year of the applicable recovery period. In most cases, recovery periods under ADS are longer than recovery periods available under MACRS.

    There are a variety of factors that taxpayers must consider in determining if an aircraft may be depreciated, and, if so, the correct depreciation method and recovery period that should be utilized. For example, aircraft used in charter service (i.e. Part 135) are normally depreciated under MACRS over a seven-year recovery period, or under ADS using a twelve-year recovery period.

    Aircraft used for qualified business purposes, such as Part 91 business use flights, are generally depreciated under MACRS over a period of five years or by using ADS with a seven-year recovery period.

    There are certain uses of the aircraft, such as non-business flights, that may have an impact on the allowable depreciation deduction available in any given year.

    The US enacted the 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act into law on December 22, 2017. Under the Act, taxpayers could deduct up to 100% of the cost of a new or pre-owned aircraft purchased and placed in service before January 1, 2023 under certain conditions.

    This 100% expensing provision was a huge bonus for aircraft owners and operators. After December 31, 2022, the Act decreased the percentage available each year by 20% to depreciate qualified business jets until December 31, 2026. Starting January 1, 2024, the percentage rate available has been reduced to 60%.

    Table C and D depict an examples of using the MACRS schedule for a 2023-model Embraer Praetor 600 and Bombardier Challenger 3500 in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven- year periods, respectively. The prices are as published by Aircraft Bluebook (Winter 2023).

    Tables C and D - Embraer Praetor 600 & Bombardier Challenger 3500 MACRS Examples

    Productivity Comparison

    The points in Chart E are centered on the same aircraft. Pricing used in the horizontal axis is as published in Aircraft Bluebook. The productivity index requires further discussion since factors used can be somewhat arbitrary. Productivity can be defined (and it is here) as the multiple of three factors:

    1.    Four Passenger Range (nm) with available fuel

    2.    The long-range cruise speed flown to achieve that range

    3.    The cabin volume available for passengers and amenities

    Chart E - Embraer Praetor 600 vs Bombardier Challenger 3500 Productivity Comparison

    Others may choose different parameters, but serious business aircraft buyers are usually impressed with price, range, speed, and cabin size.

    As sourced from Aircraft Bluebook and JETNET, a 2023 model Embraer Praetor 600 costs more to acquire and has a slightly higher variable hourly operating cost. So what do you get for the money?

    The Praetor 600 offers more range than any other Super Mid-Size Jet, including more than 600nm extra range carrying four passengers and available fuel in this particular comparison. It also offers greater payload with full fuel (289lbs, or the equivalent of an extra person with luggage).

    The Challenger 3500 offers a little more long-range cruise speed (442kts vs 433kts), and 225cu.ft. more cabin volume – and it was passenger comfort that Bombardier was focusing on with its upgrades to this model over its predecessor.

    The ultimate question facing potential buyers is, what matters more to your unique mission requirement?

    While the preceding paragraphs we have touched upon several of the attributes that business jet operators value, other qualities such as airport performance, terminal area performance and time-to-climb that might factor in a buying decision, but are beyond the scope of this comparison.

    Ultimately, there is plenty for a prospective buyer to consider when deciding which performance criteria is better suited to them in an aircraft. The two business jets featured in this comparison offer great value in the market today, each with something different to offer a slightly different mission profile.

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    Mike Chase

    Mike Chase

    Editor, Aircraft Comparisons

    Michael Chase owns Chase & Associates, an aviation consulting firm specialized in industry product and market research in the Commercial & Business Aviation sectors.

    With over five decades of extensive experience, Michael has worked as a director of special projects for JETNET, LLC; served as Senior Management Consultant for Sabre Holding; and was Director of Market & Sales Research for Gulfstream Aerospace, leading sales and product research, including feasibility and viability studies.



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