...While Bombardier Defends Challenger Record

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The Feb. 2 crash at TEB also raised questions about the Challenger itself. The TEB crash, along with November's in Colorado, had industry observers questioning both the crews' judgment and the airplane's behavior in cold weather. Again, the NTSB has not yet determined the probable causes of either accident, but there is rampant speculation among industry observers that the Colorado crash resulted from an ice-contaminated wing. In the TEB crash, the airplane had arrived earlier that morning without incident but conditions on the ground were conducive to forming frost. Bombardier, maker of the Challenger line of business jets, defended the airplane's record, noting that "over a five-year period between 1999 and 2003, the Challenger 601/604 series has an accident rate of only 1 accident for every 1,000,000 flight hours. This rate is almost five times better than the average business jet fleet accident rate of 4.8 accidents per 1,000,000 flight hours. This rate is better than the average accident rate for U.S.-registered airlines." According to Bombardier, more than 637 Challenger 601/604 aircraft have accumulated in excess of 2.7 million flight hours and logged more than 1.7 million departures since the type entered service in December 1980.