How do Embraer’s newly certified Praetor 600 and Bombardier’s Challenger 350 compare? What are the advantages offered by each model? Mike Chase analyses the performance of these two Super Mid-size Jet competitors.
Over the following paragraphs we’ll consider key productivity parameters for the Embraer Praetor 600 and Bombardier Challenger 350 (including payload, range, speed and cabin size), to establish which provides the better value in the Super Midsize Jet market.
Embraer Praetor 600
Through its Praetor 500 and 600 models, Embraer introduced improved variants of its Legacy 450 and 500 models, respectively, at the October 2018 NBAA convention in Orlando. The Praetor 600 was subsequently certified by the FAA and EASA in May 2019.
The $20.995m Praetor 600 is based on the Legacy 500, but with two tanks on the fuselage belly (allowing for 2,928lbs more fuel), and more powerful 7,528lbst Honeywell HTF7500E engines. The first delivery took place in June 2019.
With deliveries of the Praetor 600 starting in H2 2019 and there were 11 wholly owned aircraft in operation at the time of writing. During NBAA-BACE 2019, Embraer received a $1.4 billion order from Flexjet LLC that included several Praetor jets.
Bombardier Challenger 350
Launched in May 2013, meanwhile, the Bombardier Challenger 350 is an upgrade of the Challenger 300, offering new engines and winglets, a different interior, and new avionics.
To date, a total of 325 Challenger 350s had been built, with 320 in operation worldwide. Most (215) are wholly owned. However, this aircraft is popular with Fractional Ownership providers, too, with 101 fractionally owned. One has been retired.
Of the Challenger 350s in operation today, North America has the largest fleet percentage (73%) followed by Europe (19%), accounting for 92% of the world’s fleet.
Payload & Range Comparison
An important area for potential operators to focus on is payload capability, and especially ‘Available Payload with Maximum Fuel’. Table A shows the Embraer Praetor 600’s Available Payload with Maximum Fuel to be 2,194lbs., which is greater than the 1,905lbs. offered by the Bombardier Challenger 350.
TABLE A: Embraer Praetor 600 vs Bombardier Challenger 350 Payload Comparisons
Cabin Cross-Section Comparison
Chart A depicts the cabin cross-sections of the Praetor 600 and Challenger 350. As shown, the two business jets share the same cabin height (6ft) but the Praetor 600 has less cabin width (6.8ft) than the Challenger 350 (7.2ft).
The Challenger 350 also has a greater cabin length (25.2ft) than the Praetor 600 (24.1ft). Overall, Bombardier’s Challenger 350 provides more cabin volume (1,024cu.ft.) compared to Praetor 600 (840cu.ft.).
CHART A: Embraer Praetor 600 vs Bombardier Challenger 350 Cabin Cross-Section Comparison
In terms of baggage room, while the Praetor 500 provides less than half the internal luggage volume of the Challenger 350 (45cu.ft. versus 106cu.ft.), according to Conklin & de Decker the Praetor 600 has 110cu.ft. external baggage space while the Challenger 350 offers none.
As depicted in Chart B, using Melbourne, Florida as the start point the Praetor 600 offers greater range coverage (4,018nm) than the Challenger 350 at 3,250nm, both with four passengers and available fuel.
Note: For business jets, ‘Four Pax Range’ represents the maximum IFR range of the aircraft at long range cruise. NBAA IFR fuel reserve calculation is for a 200nm alternate. This range does not include winds aloft or any other weather-related obstacles.
CHART B: Embraer Praetor 600 vs Bombardier Challenger 350 Range Comparison
Two HTF7500E engines power the Praetor 600, each providing 7,528lbst while burning 258 gallons per hour (GPH). By comparison, the Challenger 350 is powered by a pair of HTF7350 engines, each offering 7,323lbst and burning 255 gallons per hour (GPH).
Total Variable Cost Comparison
The ‘Total Variable Cost’, illustrated in Chart C, is defined as the estimated cost of fuel expense, maintenance labor expense, scheduled parts expense, and miscellaneous trip expense (hangar, crew and catering).
These costs do not represent a direct source into every flight department and their trip support expenses. Therefore, for comparative purposes the costs presented are the relative differences, not the actual differences since these may vary from flight department to flight department in actual operations.
Embraer’s Praetor 600 shows a lower variable cost at $3,249/hour compared to the Bombardier Challenger 350’s $3,801/hour; a difference of $552 (14.5%).
CHART C: Embraer Praetor 600 vs Bombardier Challenger 350 Operating Cost Comparison
Aircraft Comparison Table
Table B contains the new prices (per Vref) for a 2019 model Embraer Praetor 600 and Bombardier Challenger 350. The long-range cruise speed and range numbers are from B&CA; the cabin volumes are from each OEM; and the number of aircraft in operation, the percentage for sale, and average sold are from JETNET.
TABLE B: Embraer Praetor 600 vs Bombardier Challenger 350 Market Comparison
The Praetor 600 had no aircraft for sale on the used aircraft market while 4.1% of the Challenger 350 fleet was for sale at the time of writing. Since first delivery (six months ago), the average number of new and used Praetor 600 transactions (units sold) per month averages two, while the Challenger 350 averages five sales per month across the previous 12 months.
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 (see Table C).
TABLE C: MACRS Schedule for Part 91 & Part 135 Operations
In certain cases, aircraft may not qualify under the MACRS system and must be depreciated under the less favourable 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 is 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 six-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 new Act, taxpayers may be able to deduct up to 100% of the cost of a new or pre-owned aircraft purchased after September 27, 2017 and placed in service before January 1, 2023.
This 100% expensing provision is a huge bonus for aircraft owners and operators. After December 31, 2022 the Act decreases the percentage available each year by 20% to depreciate qualified business jets until December 31, 2026.
Table D depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2019-model Praetor 600 in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods.
TABLE D: Embraer Praetor 600 MACRS Schedule
Table E depicts an example of using the MACRS schedule for a 2019-model Bombardier Challenger 350 in private (Part 91) and charter (Part 135) operations over five- and seven-year periods.
TABLE E: Bombardier Challenger 350 MACRS Schedule
Asking Prices & Quantity
As mentioned, in December 2019, no Praetor 600 business jets were available on the used aircraft market. By comparison, 13 Challenger 350s were for sale with six showing asking prices that ranged from $13.75m to $17.7m. The other seven invited offers/inquiries.
While each serial number is unique, the Airframe Total Time (AFTT) and age/condition of an aircraft will cause great variation in the price of a specific aircraft – even between two aircraft from the same year of manufacture.
The final negotiated price remains to be decided between the seller and buyer before the sale of an aircraft is completed.
The points in Chart D are centered on the Embraer Praetor 600 and Bombardier Challenger 350. Pricing used in the vertical axis is as published in the Vref Pricing Guide.
The productivity index requires further discussion in that the factors used can be somewhat arbitrary. Productivity can be defined (and it is here) as the multiple of three factors:
- Four Passenger Range (nm) with available fuel;
- The long-range cruise speed flown to achieve that range;
- The cabin volume available for passengers and amenities.
Others may choose different parameters, but serious business aircraft buyers are usually impressed with price, range, speed and cabin size.
CHART D: Embraer Praetor 600 vs Bombardier Challenger 350 Productivity Comparison
As of December 2019, a new Praetor 600 was purchased at a higher price ($20.995m) than a new Challenger 350 ($20m). However, the Praetor 600 exhibits lower hourly variable operating costs with significantly more range and a higher Available Payload with Full Fuel.
Nevertheless, the Challenger 350 offers a greater cabin volume, and a higher cruise speed (459kts vs 433kts).
Within the preceding paragraphs we have touched upon several of the attributes that business jet operators value. There are other qualities such as airport performance, terminal area performance and time-to-climb that might factor in a buying decision, however.
Operators should weigh up their mission requirements precisely when picking which option is the best for them. Ultimately, there is plenty for a prospective buyer to consider when deciding which aircraft, and which performance criteria, is better suited to them.
The Praetor 600 is new to the market and offers best-in-class range and lower hourly operating costs compared to its competitors.