Air Transport World

Is Beech Starship wave of commuter aircraft future?

Is Beech Starship wave of commuter aircraft future?

The advent of new technology, and new materials and systems for maximizing all-round performance during the past two decades revived industry interest again in tail-less type designs. There was new confidence, new companies who felt old barriers could be overcome, that substantial reliability and operational gains could be achieved.

The late Bill Lear's plan for a high performance twin-turbine, single-prop, pusher corporate aircraft--called the Learfan-- excited civil aviation market interest. Development was started in the mid-'70s, but the program foundered last year for the lack of funds to complete engineering investigations and ultimate certification.

In 1983 Beech Aircraft and Gates-Learjet each announced "revolutionary' designs and development programs for twinpusher type corporate transports.

1987 certification

For financial reasons the Gates-Learjet equal partnership agreement with Italy's Piaggio "Avanti' design has been cancelled. (Gates-Learjet will complete construction of test aircraft components and render other technical services.) It was not clear at presstime as to how this action would affect the program. The test aircraft is due to roll out soon. Piaggio seeks a new partner.

The Beech Starship Model 2000 concept is currently off the ground and flying. The first full-scale prototype made its initial flight in February and two additional test prototypes are due to fly soon as part of the FAA certification of the Model 2000 by the end of 1987. First deliveries to customers are forecast for mid-1988. FAA says it will examine a near-dozen special design construction/operations features being introduced for the first time in the certification process. …

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