Beechcraft Starship
Overview
 
The Beechcraft Starship is a twin-turboprop
Turboprop
A turboprop engine is a type of turbine engine which drives an aircraft propeller using a reduction gear.The gas turbine is designed specifically for this application, with almost all of its output being used to drive the propeller...

 six- to eight-passenger pressurized business aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 produced by Beech Aircraft Corporation
Beechcraft
Beechcraft is an American manufacturer of general aviation and military aircraft, ranging from light single engine aircraft to business jets and light military transports. Previously a division of Raytheon, it has been a brand of Hawker Beechcraft since 2006....

 (now Beechcraft Division of Hawker Beechcraft
Hawker Beechcraft
Hawker Beechcraft Corporation is an aerospace manufacturing company that builds the Beechcraft and Hawker business jet lines of aircraft....

).
Development of the Starship began in 1979 when Beech decided to explore designs for a successor to its King Air
Beechcraft King Air
The Beechcraft King Air family is part of a line of twin-turboprop aircraft produced by the Beech Aircraft Corporation...

 line of turboprops that would fly faster and carry more passengers. The design was originated by Beechcraft
Beechcraft
Beechcraft is an American manufacturer of general aviation and military aircraft, ranging from light single engine aircraft to business jets and light military transports. Previously a division of Raytheon, it has been a brand of Hawker Beechcraft since 2006....

 in January 1980 as Preliminary Design 330 (PD 330).
Encyclopedia
The Beechcraft Starship is a twin-turboprop
Turboprop
A turboprop engine is a type of turbine engine which drives an aircraft propeller using a reduction gear.The gas turbine is designed specifically for this application, with almost all of its output being used to drive the propeller...

 six- to eight-passenger pressurized business aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 produced by Beech Aircraft Corporation
Beechcraft
Beechcraft is an American manufacturer of general aviation and military aircraft, ranging from light single engine aircraft to business jets and light military transports. Previously a division of Raytheon, it has been a brand of Hawker Beechcraft since 2006....

 (now Beechcraft Division of Hawker Beechcraft
Hawker Beechcraft
Hawker Beechcraft Corporation is an aerospace manufacturing company that builds the Beechcraft and Hawker business jet lines of aircraft....

).

Development

Development of the Starship began in 1979 when Beech decided to explore designs for a successor to its King Air
Beechcraft King Air
The Beechcraft King Air family is part of a line of twin-turboprop aircraft produced by the Beech Aircraft Corporation...

 line of turboprops that would fly faster and carry more passengers. The design was originated by Beechcraft
Beechcraft
Beechcraft is an American manufacturer of general aviation and military aircraft, ranging from light single engine aircraft to business jets and light military transports. Previously a division of Raytheon, it has been a brand of Hawker Beechcraft since 2006....

 in January 1980 as Preliminary Design 330 (PD 330). On August 25, 1982 Beech contracted with Scaled Composites
Scaled Composites
Scaled Composites is an aerospace company founded by Burt Rutan and currently owned by Northrop Grumman that is located at the Mojave Spaceport, Mojave, California, United States...

 to refine the design and build an 85% scale proof-of-concept (POC) aircraft. One of the significant changes made to the design by Scaled Composites was the addition of variable geometry to the canard
Canard (aeronautics)
In aeronautics, canard is an airframe configuration of fixed-wing aircraft in which the forward surface is smaller than the rearward, the former being known as the "canard", while the latter is the main wing...

.

The POC aircraft first flew in August 1983. This aircraft had no pressurization system, no certified avionics, and a different airframe design and material specifications than the planned production Model 2000. Only one POC was built and it has since been scrapped.

Prototypes were produced even as development work was continuing—a system demanded by the use of composite materials, as the tooling required is very expensive and has to be built for production use from the outset. Beech built three airworthy full-scale prototypes. NC-1 was used for aerodynamic testing and was the only Starship equipped with conventional electro-mechanical avionics. NC-2 was used for avionics and systems testing and NC-3 was used for flight management system and powerplant testing. NC-1 first flew on February 15, 1986.

The program was delayed several times, at first due to underestimating the development complexity involved and later to overcome technical difficulties concerning the stall-warning system. By the end of development, the Starship had grown larger in cabin volume than the King Air 350 while having the same gross ramp weight of 15010 lb (6,808 kg). Starship development cost $300 million. The first production Starship flew on April 25, 1989.

Design

The Starship is noteworthy for its carbon fiber composite airframe
Airframe
The airframe of an aircraft is its mechanical structure. It is typically considered to include fuselage, wings and undercarriage and exclude the propulsion system...

, canard
Canard (aeronautics)
In aeronautics, canard is an airframe configuration of fixed-wing aircraft in which the forward surface is smaller than the rearward, the former being known as the "canard", while the latter is the main wing...

 design, lack of centrally located vertical tail, and pusher
Pusher configuration
In a craft with a pusher configuration the propeller are mounted behind their respective engine. According to Bill Gunston, a "pusher propeller" is one mounted behind engine so that drive shaft is in compression...

 engine/propeller configuration.

Carbon fiber composite
Carbon fiber-reinforced polymer
Carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer or carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic , is a very strong and light fiber-reinforced polymer which contains carbon fibers. The polymer is most often epoxy, but other polymers, such as polyester, vinyl ester or nylon, are sometimes used...

 was used to varying degrees on military aircraft, but at the time the Starship was certified, no civilian aircraft certified by the US Federal Aviation Administration
Federal Aviation Administration
The Federal Aviation Administration is the national aviation authority of the United States. An agency of the United States Department of Transportation, it has authority to regulate and oversee all aspects of civil aviation in the U.S...

 had ever used it so extensively. Beech chose carbon fiber composite for its durability and high strength-to-weight ratio. According to Beech, the Starship weighs less than it would have if it were built from aluminum. Nonetheless, the empty weight of production aircraft exceeded the target by several thousand pounds.

Beech studied several configurations before settling on a canard configuration in early 1980. As configured, the Starship is difficult to stall—the forward surface stalls before the main lifting surface, which allows the nose to drop and more-normal flight to resume.

A traditionally located vertical tail would have transmitted propeller noise into the airframe. In its place, directional stability and control is provided by rudders mounted in the winglets (Beechcraft called them tipsails) at the tips of the wings.

Mounting the engines so that the propellers are facing rearward, pushing rather than pulling the aircraft, has the potential of a quieter ride since the propellers are further from the passengers and because vortices from the propeller tips do not strike the fuselage sides. However, the propellers are operating in a turbulent airflow in the pusher configuration (due to airflow past the wings moving aft in vortex sheets) and high-velocity exhaust gasses are discharged directly into the props, thus the resulting external propeller noise is more choppy and raucous than otherwise.

Flight instrumentation for the Starship included a 14-tube Proline 4 AMS-850 "glass cockpit
Glass cockpit
A glass cockpit is an aircraft cockpit that features electronic instrument displays, typically large LCD screens, as opposed to the traditional style of analog dials and gauges...

" supplied by Rockwell Collins
Rockwell Collins
Rockwell Collins, Inc. is a large United States-based international company headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, primarily providing aviation and information technology systems and services to governmental agencies and aircraft manufacturers.- History :...

, the first application of an all-glass cockpit in a business aircraft.

Sales

Beech sold only eleven Starships in the three years following its certification. Beech attributed the slow sales to the economic slowdown in the late-1980s, the novelty of the Starship, and the tax on luxury items that was in effect in the United States at the time. In an effort to stimulate demand, Beech began offering two-year leases on new Starships in 1991.

End of the program

The last Starship, NC-53, was produced in 1995. In 2003 Beechcraft determined that supporting such a small fleet of airplanes was cost-prohibitive and began scrapping and incinerating the aircraft under its control. The aircraft were sent to the Evergreen Air Center located at the Pinal Airpark
Pinal Airpark
Pinal Airpark is a county-owned, public-use airport located seven nautical miles northwest of the central business district of Marana, in Pinal County, Arizona, United States....

 in Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

 for destruction. Beech worked with owners of privately-owned Starships to replace their airplanes with other Beech aircraft such as the Premier I jet.

In 2004 Raytheon sold its entire inventory of Starship parts to a Starship owner for a fraction of its retail value.

Hawker Beechcraft continues to offer support by phone. Rockwell Collins
Rockwell Collins
Rockwell Collins, Inc. is a large United States-based international company headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, primarily providing aviation and information technology systems and services to governmental agencies and aircraft manufacturers.- History :...

 has maintained full support for the AMS-850 avionics suite.

Variants

Model 115
Conceptual 85% scale prototype, one built by Scaled Composites.


Model 2000
Initial production version. 20 produced including three pre-production airworthy prototypes.


Model 2000A
Beech did not serialize the 2000A as a distinct model and it was not issued a new FAA type certificate.

The final 2000A configuration had tuning-fork-type noise dampers and improved insulation to reduce cabin noise and redesigned exhaust stacks for more efficient engine airflow. Stall strips placed on the front wing to enhance stall behavior were removed. Elimination of the stall strips reduced stall speed by up to 9 kn (11 mph; 18 km/h), which allows the 2000A to takeoff from shorter runways. The 2000 had standpipes in the fuel tanks to artificially limit fuel capacity so the aircraft would meet a target payload weight. The standpipes were removed in the 2000A, increasing fuel capacity by 31 US gal (117 l). Both the maximum ramp weight and takeoff weight were increased by 500 lb (227 kg) and zero fuel weight was increased 400 lb (181 kg).

Beech produced a kit to upgrade serial numbers NC-4 through NC-28 to 2000A specifications.

Aircraft on display

Several Starships have been donated to museums since the decommissioning program began. The Kansas Aviation Museum
Kansas Aviation Museum
Kansas Aviation Museum is located in Riverside Township, Sedgwick County, near Wichita, Kansas at 3350 George Washington Blvd. It is known for exhibiting aircraft made by the Boeing Company, which has a large presence in Wichita...

 received the first donated aircraft, NC-41, in August 2003 and the Beechcraft Heritage Museum in Tullahoma, TN, received the second donated aircraft, NC-49, in September 2003. NC-42 was donated to the Museum of Flight
Museum of Flight
The Museum of Flight is a private non-profit air and space museum at King County International Airport , south of downtown Seattle, Washington. It was established in 1965 and is fully accredited by the American Association of Museums...

 in Seattle, WA, and is currently on loan to the Future of Flight
Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour
The Future of Flight Aviation Center is an aviation museum and education center located at the northwest corner of Paine Field in Mukilteo, Washington. It is the starting point for the Boeing Tour, a tour of a portion of Boeing's Everett, Washington production facility in which the models 747,...

 at Paine Field
Paine Field
Paine Field, also known as Snohomish County Airport is a public airport located in unincorporated Snohomish County, between Mukilteo and Everett, Washington...

 in Everett, WA. NC-27 was donated to Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon in late 2003 and is currently on static display. NC-23 is on Airline Row at the Pima Air & Space Museum
Pima Air & Space Museum
The Pima Air & Space Museum features a display of nearly 300 aircraft spread out over 80 acres on a campus occupying 127 acres . Located in Tucson, Arizona, it is one of the world's largest, non-government funded aerospace museums...

.

Survivors

, nine Starships hold an active registration with the FAA. Three Starships are registered in Oklahoma (NC-29, NC-35 & NC-45), one in Washington (NC-50), one in Colorado (NC-51), and four are registered to Hawker Beechcraft in Wichita, Kansas (NC-2, NC-8, NC-19 & NC-24). NC-51 was used as a chase plane
Chase plane
A chase plane is an aircraft that "chases" another aircraft, a spacecraft or a rocket during flight. Safety can be one function of a chase plane; others are to photo or video the target vehicle, or to collect engineering data from it...

 during the re-entry phase of Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne. In October 2008 NC-29 was the first of the five remaining privately-owned airworthy Starships to complete RVSM
Reduced Vertical Separation Minima
Reduced Vertical Separation Minima or Minimum is an aviation term used to describe the reduction of the standard vertical separation required between aircraft flying above FL285 and up to FL410 from 2,000 feet to 1,000 feet...

 certification, returning the aircraft's service ceiling to the original FL410
Flight level
A Flight Level is a standard nominal altitude of an aircraft, in hundreds of feet. This altitude is calculated from the International standard pressure datum of 1013.25 hPa , the average sea-level pressure, and therefore is not necessarily the same as the aircraft's true altitude either...

 limit.

Evergreen Air Center sold 24 Starships back to private owners for $50,000 each. Most are being used for parts; however, one of these aircraft has since been made airworthy again. Some former Starship parts have been used on the Epic turboprop kitplane.

Queensland Institute for Aviation Engineering in Caloundra, Queensland
Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, purchased NC-28 in November 2004 for use in various training programs. Salt Lake Community College
Salt Lake Community College
Salt Lake Community College is the largest higher education institution with the most diverse student body in Utah . The College offers and operates throughout the Salt Lake valley. Even with its large student body, the College maintains a student to faculty ratio of just 20 to 1...

 uses a Starship in their Aviation Maintenance program.

Specifications (2000A)

See also

External links

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