The Beech Starship fleet is being destroyed at the behest of its manufacturer Raytheon, which owns 40 of the 50 production airplanes built between 1988 and 1995. In recent weeks Starships have been flown to Pinal Air Park in Marana, Ariz., near Tucson, and corralled at Evergreen Air Center’s heavy maintenance facility, which at press time had destroyed six airplanes by sawing them up and burning the carbon-fiber sections in an incinerator. The goal is to complete the destruction of the airplanes under Raytheon control by year-end. Asked why, a company spokesman said, “The costs of supporting the fleet are prohibitive. There are many parts on the Starship that are unique to that aircraft. We have a backlog of parts, and we will part out those aircraft that are being decommissioned to add to that backlog.” He also asserted that, with such a small number of in-service airplanes, retrofitting the fleet for new requirements such as RVSM is a prohibitively expensive proposition. “The Starship was a good aircraft that unfortunately didn’t meet market acceptance,” the Raytheon Aircraft spokesman said. Looking on the positive side, the spokesman noted that the twin-turboprop pusher served as a “springboard for the knowledge and experience with composites that have taken us to the Premier I and Horizon.”
The Starship is one of those airplanes that I guess that I'll never have the chance to fly. Personally, I thought the design was pretty neat; but I guess it was one of those "near miss" airplane - it just missed being a good airplane and Raytheon is finally putting it out of its misery. The last time I remember hearing about a manufacturer buying back and distroying all examples of an aircraft was the old Cessna Skyhook helicopter. Are there any other examples?
Aaron atp From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 533 posts, RR: 2 Reply 1, posted (10 years 6 months 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 3833 times:
It's about time.
I think the starship was one of the greatest engineering failures of modern aviation; hence the fact it didn't receive "market acceptance." The Piaggio Avanti is everything the starship was meant to be but wasn't...
To your question, no, I can't think of any non-prototype that was recalled to be destroyed; but I could think of quite a few that should be (the CJ2 and the MU-2 pops into mind).
Jetguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 3, posted (10 years 6 months 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 3821 times:
I'll agree with the "POS" description of the Starship - it looked like it had been painted with a broom and was never up to the "Beechcraft" standard that you come to expect from them. I was always intrigued by the cannard concept. I helped a friend build a Q-200 homebuilt and it was a lot of fun to fly. I always wanted to see what the Starship flew like.
I have to disagree with your comments about the MU-2. I've got around a 1000 hours in a MU-2 Marquis and I actually liked flying the airplane - once I got the appropriate mindset. It has to be flown as if it were a jet with propellers and not a propeller-driven aircraft powered with turbine engines. Once you got that worked out in your mind, flying the airplane was actually a lot of fun. As I remember, it had the same wing loading as a Lear 35, T-38, and B727 so you can't expect it to fly like it was a King Air.
Aaron atp From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 533 posts, RR: 2 Reply 4, posted (10 years 6 months 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 3804 times:
The canard concept is great, I think the Long EZ is a great little plane and the P180 takes the design another step forward. (The Q200 certainly is a unique little airplane)
The closest I've ever come to certain death was because of an MU-2 and its owner/pilot (no fault of my own), so that has a lot to do with my disdain for it. The LR35 (and others) may have the same wing loading, but at least the wings are stiff enough to make you feel a bit safer.
That, and the others don't have suicide doors that open into the prop arc!!! (I know other models were built with the door aft)
CitationJet From United States of America, joined Mar 2003, 2319 posts, RR: 3 Reply 5, posted (10 years 6 months 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 3801 times:
There were lots of reasons why the Starship was not successful. some of the reasons that have been discussed here in Wichita are:
The plane ended up overweight.
Certification proved much more difficult than expected.
The FAA was inexperienced at certifying composite structure.
The type of person that would buy a Starship would appreciate the radical new design. However Beech found out that the decision makers in purchasing aircraft like the Starship tend to be conservative, and have to answer to the bean-counters.
The plane was pretty expensive. A small jet was about the same price.
The plane was very noisy. You could hear it approaching and recognize the sound long before it flew over.
Beech learned a lot about composites from this development program.
I am not saying that I agree with or endorse these ideas. But merely stating what has been discussed in the general aviation community here in Wichita among engineers at Beech (Raytheon), Cessna, and Bombardier (LearJet).
BTW, there have been numerous Starship aircraft sitting outside at the Wichita Airport (ICT) for a couple of years.
Jetguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 6, posted (10 years 6 months 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 3791 times:
You hit the nail square on the head when it came to the MU-2...
The problem was with "Owner/Pilots"
The problem was that 10 or 15 years ago the early models could be purchased on the used market for what you'd pay for a good light twin and there were a lot of well-to-do doctors, attorneys, and businessmen that succumbed to the lure of the cheap turboprop. ("Let's see, for $100,000 I can buy a 180 knot Cessna 310 or a 270 knot turbo-prop MU-2? Gee, that's a no-brainer...") All was well and good, except that many of the new owner/pilots didn't realize that when it came to maintenance they were essentially maintaining a $1 million turboprop that they bought cheap. They also, in many cases, "self-insured" because of the high requirements the insurance company placed on them; after all, it was just another airplane and they really didn't need to go to FlightSafety for initial and recurrent training. Everything usually went reasonably well for those guys until the maintenance issues finally caught up with them and they found themselves in the air with one engine. At that point, the training that they received in the Seneca, C310, Aztec, etc. that they received their multi-engine rating took over and they promptly did exactly the wrong thing to survive an engine loss in a MU-2. The airplanes did exactly what airplanes do when they are mishandled and a significant number of them turned themselves into lawn darts.
As far as suicide doors? I've flown the Aerostar and Turbo Commander that had doors in or near the prop arc, but the long-body MU-2's doors were aft of the wing and so too were the short body's, I believe. The Commander had an electrical interlock to keep you from doing something stupid.
The wings on the MU-2 are plenty stiff. The airplane weighed, as I remember, somewhere around 11,000 pounds. The wing span and area was roughly equivalent to the wing on a Cessna 182. The problem with the ride on the MU-2 was with the landing gear, it had a tendency to allow the airplane to lean. Until you get used to the feeling it does have a tendendency to freak you out. It was also the most difficult airplane to get consistently good landings. On the plus side, it had a cabin that had 10% more volume than a King Air 200; it flew 10% faster and burned 10% less fuel than the KA200. My MU-2 instructor at FlightSafety made the "tongue-in-cheek" comment that "You won't feel comfortable flying the MU-2 until you accept the fact that you are out of control 10% of the time."
The MU-2 definitely isn't one of those airplanes that you can be half asleep when you fly it. If you need one of those kind of airplanes, go buy a King Air or a straight-wing Citation.
Mr Spaceman From Canada, joined Mar 2001, 2786 posts, RR: 9 Reply 8, posted (10 years 6 months 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 3747 times:
I thought the Beech Starship was a very neat aircraft to look at when it hit the scene. With it's composite construction, huge winglets, canards, and pusher props, it was obviously quite unique. (I wonder if Burt Rutan was involved in it's design?) I'm sorry to learn that the whole fleet is being destroyed, but then again, I wasn't aware that it was a POS and looked like it was painted with a broom if you got up close to one.
I Love the Piaggio P-180 Avanti. Almost every day I see the same one fly right over my home while flying to and from Toronto's Buttonvile Airport (YKZ). Like the Starship, it also has an awsome sound that can only be an Avanti. My girlfriend & I always quickly step outside to watch her fly by. She's quite an eye opener. Especially during climbout!
Regarding the Mitsubishi MU-2. I used to refuel one several times a week back in the late eighties/early nineties. It was a dedicated medivac aircraft, and was always busy. If I remember correctly, during refueling, no more than 250 liters could be pumped into the tip tanks at a time ...... or the bird could tip over! You couldn't go near it on the ramp while it's engines were running without wearing a headset, or you'd go deaf! I think it had Garret or Allison turboprop engines.
Here's a comparison of the cabin doors on the MU-2, the Rockwell 690 Turbo Commander, and the Piper Aerostar 601.
IMissPiedmont From United States of America, joined May 2001, 6246 posts, RR: 36 Reply 10, posted (10 years 6 months 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 3669 times:
The point is liability. The Starship was, and is, a great airplane. The problem is in it's construction. It is built, ad you all know, from composites. Fiberglass if you will that was spun around a mold for the fuselage. An exceptionally strong aircraft off the line but not easily repaired when damaged. The best that could be expected for a damage repair is 50% of original strength. That would be great if all work was done properly, sadly it wasn't. The poor airplane has been saddled with inferior repair work since the first was dinged.
The point being that Raytheon took the responsible stance that they should be destroyed. It would be very nice if they were instead donated to museums but then that would also raise the problem that a museum could sell it. And, almost done, Raytheon holding ownership while on display at a museum would cause tax problems for the company. A true Catch-21 for the Starship.
I have pictures of 34 of them and will be sad when the last is scrapped.
Is grammar no longer taught is schools? Saying "me and her" or some such implies illiteracy.
Alessandro From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 11, posted (10 years 6 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 3621 times:
Shame the Russians didn´t buy them, to gain know-how and good planes rather inexpensive.
As for going on the Starship (9 left in private hands?), I found this homepage http://www.cfi-inc.com/starship.html so if someone is interested for a trip contact them.
L-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 29518 posts, RR: 59 Reply 12, posted (10 years 6 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 3616 times:
No, all they have to do is remove the data plates and it isn't an aircraft any more.
That is what the A&P school at UAA did to get their MU-2. The sold the data plate back to the Mitsubishi. One more airframe they don't have to support, and the school got a test stand that wasn't an airplane.
BTW: On the MU-2. Got to see one come in on a dead engine about two years ago. It was on a medivac flight with patient. That next winter the "accidently" spun the sucker in IFR conditions, but recovered!
Anyway it wasn't that long after, that particluar medivac program got two King Air 200's to replace the MU's.
OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
L-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 29518 posts, RR: 59 Reply 13, posted (10 years 6 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 3617 times:
Oh and the other thing about any canard design is that they are ground hogs.
Universally ground hogs.
Canards are designed so that they are "stall proof". Meaning that you nead to have the canard stall before the main wing, this makes the nose drops and causes and "automatic" recovery. Canards also are allowed to carry part of the design load.
Since the Canard won't develop any lift until the mainwing does, that means you can't lift the nose on take-off. On a convential aircraft you can use elevator inputs to push the tail down and shorten your run.
The Starship was a dog in hot and high conditions.
OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
L-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 29518 posts, RR: 59 Reply 15, posted (10 years 6 months 2 days ago) and read 3546 times:
On the Avanti those surfaces are rigged with the flaps to counter the pitch forces generated by the flaps.
The Avanti is not a canard. It is a panard, All of it's pitch controls come from the tail surfaces just like a normal aircraft. Piaggio wanted as big of cabin as possible for their aircraft, so they located the wing as far aft as they could get it. But this ment the aircraft was nose heavy. Installing those "canards" they generate lift and hold the nose of the airplane up. Which solved the nose CG issue. Also, and somebody might want to check me on this, Those canards and the fact the payload of the aircraft is spread between two lifting surfaces, provides the Avanti with one of the largest CG ranges out there.
On the Starship, which is a true Canard, the canard is sweep wing to counter the pitch forces generated by the flaps. It still is the only civilian aircraft that ever entered production with sweep wings. The control surfaces on them are in fact the Elevators. Again as in the Avanti, Beech wanted as large of cabin as possible so they went with the Canard design so that part of the load could be flown on the Canard.
OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
Jetguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 20, posted (10 years 6 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3500 times:
"So can I ask how come the Piaggio Avanti was such a hit and the Starship wasn't? Doesn't the Starship outperform the Avanti- faster, more powerful, better looking, bigger etc?"
The Piaggio "such a hit"? You must be speaking "relatively" of course. In all of my travels across the States, I've run into exactly two of them - both operated by the same company. As I remember, the Piaggio was pulled off of the market here in the US for a few years because sales were so bad.
The Piaggio had one other big plus (in the eyes of some owner/operators) - it didn't need a type rating where the Starship did. On the negative side of the ledger is the fact that (in my personal opinion) it is FREAKING UGLY ! ! ! Good numbers or not, esthetics have to enter into the equasion at some point.
The bottom line is both the Starship and the Piaggio were (are) sales flops. Even with the Piaggio back on the market, there's no way that I would ever recommend a company purchase a one, the on-going support for what can only be described as a government supported "limited production" speciality aircraft could only be described as a nightmare waiting to happen.
(Note: The above rantings are solely the opinion of someone who doesn't matter and probably has no idea of what he's talking about. - The Editor)
DodgeCharger From United States of America, joined Jun 2003, 210 posts, RR: 0 Reply 21, posted (10 years 6 months 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 3479 times:
It seems that in the early 90s the Starship used to be a somewhat regular visitor to Dallas Love Field (maybe it still is...don't think so though). I can remember sitting in class in elementary school though and hearing that very distinguishing sound and knowing it was a Starship. It had a sound that was similar to a falling bomb to me.
CitationJet From United States of America, joined Mar 2003, 2319 posts, RR: 3 Reply 22, posted (10 years 6 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 3465 times:
Today's Wichita Eagle had the following regarding the Starship:
To date, 6 aircraft have been decommissioned; 3 prototype and 3 production.
The company is in discussions with the individual owners of the 10 aircraft not owned by the company.
The company reportedly invested more than $500M in development. (That's $50M each for the 10 aircraft, which sold for $4M each).
The design was based in part on work done by Burt Rutan. If I remember correctly, they flew a 85% scale version prototype early in the development.
The paper goes on to say However its performance was not significantly better than the top of the line King Air. In addition the plane which sold for $4M cost about twice as much as a King Air. Business jets took over the market the Starship was after. The Starship was the first pressurized all composite business turboprop.
Jetguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 23, posted (10 years 6 months 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 3431 times:
Back in the mid 80's, I was offered a marketing job at Cessna. Back then, Cessna had hung Garrett 331-10's on the Conquest II (The Conquest III?). It was my understanding that the Marketing Department squashed the idea because the airplane gave the Citation 500 / Citation I as run for the money and they weren't about to become their own worst competition. It was up to a couple of different mod shops to get the "-10" STC for the Conquest. The rest is history, are there any Conquests out there without the mod? What a nice airplane!