Challenger Landing Gear
By: Mike Harrison

This is a brief history of the Challenger landing gear with an explanation of why the factory gear is seen by some as being a weak point in the design of the aircraft. Perhaps we're asking the gear, as originally designed, to do too much!

Many people consider the landing gear of the Challenger to be a "weak point" that bends prematurely. I get a lot of phone calls where people bring this up. Let's think about this logically. Is this a design flaw?? I don't think so.

When the Challenger was originally designed, it was a MUCH lighter aircraft. Take a look at the weight and balance sheet for a Challenger II. The sample page shows a plane that weighed 310 lbs empty. The plane originally had a much smaller engine, fuel tank and we didn't have all the options that you see now.

Today, the average Challenger II weighs in at over 450 lbs, based on all the toys we want to put on them. Unfortunately, there are Challenger II's out there that are well over DOUBLE the weight of the original Challenger II's. I remember the earlier years. There were no major complaints about the standard gear. It worked absolutely fine.

Back then, to bend a gear leg, you really had to blow a landing bad and then endure the teasing that accompanied such a bad landing. The increasing weight of the average Challenger has finally reached a point where the standard gear is having a harder time doing it's job. This didn't happen all at once. It was a progressive thing.

Dave has taken measures to deal with the increasing average weight of the planes. He even came up with an insert for the standard gear leg in order to give it a little more strength.

We could point our fingers at the factory and say that they are responsible for the heavier planes because many of the items we put on our Challengers are FACTORY options. A lot of the items we put on our Challengers were not originally developed by the factory. They were developed by individuals flying the planes out in the real world. Others would see the modifications and would want to incorporate the idea into their plane. Pressure is then put on the factory to make the item an option because everybody wants it.

Don't get me wrong, I think all the new ideas are great, and I have been guilty of lots of modifications myself. It's just that we have a tendency to think this little thing and that little thing won't add much weight. But the next thing you know, we have added a hundred little things to the plane, and it's getting harder to lift those main wheels to even put them on a scale for weight and balance calculations.

Mike Harrison
Skyes the Limit!
(602) 938-9735