Despite its extensive use of modern technologies and innovative design the Starship was a commercial failure.
Conceived as a new generation light corporate transport in the King Air class, the Starship traces back to the 85% scale proof of concept demonstrator built by Scaled Composites, which first flew in August 1983. The prototype Starship 2000 proper made its first flight on February 26 1986, provisionally powered by PT6A65 turboprops. A second prototype equipped with Collins avionics entered the flight test program in June 1986, while a third development aircraft took flight in January 1987. Initial US FAA certification was awarded on June 14 1988, while the first production example was flown on April 25 1989.
The unconventional Starship design incorporates many innovations. Foremost of these is its rear mounted laminar flow wing and variable geometry canards or foreplanes. The foreplanes sweep forward with flap extension for pitch trim compensation, designed to make it impossible for the Starship to stall on takeoff or landing.
The wing itself is constructed almost entirely of composites (something which attracted much criticism because of the associated difficulties of inspecting it thoroughly), and has tip mounted tails. The rear mounted engines are in a pusher arrangement, being behind the cabin noise is reduced, while their relatively close proximity to each other also improves single engine handling. The EFIS flightdeck has Collins avionics with early generation colour and monochrome CRTs.
The improved Starship 2000A was certificated in April 1992. It introduced changes including seating for six instead of eight, a slightly higher max takeoff weight and increased range.
A lack of customer interest forced Beech to terminate Starship production in early 1995 after just 53 had been built (including three prototypes), a somewhat inglorious end to a technologically innovative and promising design.
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