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Resource: Aviation Convention News; Vol. 17, No. 12; Midland Park, NJ; November 1, 1985.

Staff Report
When the curtain rose on the Dallas
NBAA gathering two years ago, it
revealed a glimpse of the future. The
unveiling of the Gates-Piaggio
GP-180-as it was then named-and
the Beech Starship charged the at-
mosphere and electrified the annual
meeting.
It is now some 26 months later and
another NBAA Convention has come
and gone. Visitors to the full-scale
mockups on the exhibit floor at New
Orleans were no longer gawking in
wonder and awe. They were asking
hard questions about delivery dates and
financing packages, flight test
schedules and equipment options. In-
exorably, the present is catching up
with the wave of the future.
Beech has opened its new
500,000-sq-fi Starship production
facility and is well on the way to com-
pleting six full-size Starship airframes,
three for flight testing and certification
trials and three for static and fatigue
testing. The wing was mated to the first
100-percent-scale Starship prototype
during NBAA Convention week in late
September, and that airplane is ex-
pected to fly early next year.
In the meantime, the proof-of-
concept (POC) 85-percent scale Star-
ship, which tantalized the Oallas
gathering with its " .. .is that a bird, a
plane ... '' flash dance, has now logged
in excess of 500 hr aloft, during which
it has not only proved its concept, but
made its shape-of-things-to-come no
longer appear radical.
While Beech is " winding up" pro-
duction of its first fuU-size Starship
prototype, Gates and Piaggio are mov-
ing steadfastly ahead with their co-
project. The two companies- which
are attempting to cooperatively design,
develop, and produce an airplane not
only between two continents, but be-
tween two cultures separated by
languages and measuring systems-are
expecting the first flight of their Avanti
in April 1986.
The forward fuselage of the first fly-
ing prototype Avanti is due out of Lear-
jet's Wichita plant this month for ship-
ment to Italy, where it wiJJ be mated
to the Piaggio-built wing and Sikorsky-
fabricated tail-cone/empennage. FAA
type certification is anticipated in the
spring of 1987, following a year-long
flight test program.
By the end of this year, Gates will
have sunk $24 million into the Avanti;
Piaggio, which conceived the design,
significantly more. Through their joint
venture, the two companies hope to
s hare t.he airplane's considerable
development risk.
Putting It Together
Beech has engineered a light, self-
supporting structure akin to an eggshell
in concept. Laminated sandwiches con-
sisting of inner and outer composite
skins bonded to Nomex honeycomb
cores are molded into desired shapes
for parts or components which are then
generally self-supporting without the
aid of frames and stringers. A fuselage,
for example, can be simply a shell with
fore and aft bulkheads but no internal
structure. Deriving much of its strength
from unidirectional skin laminates, the
Starship's main wing consists of less
than 20 parts, only a few of which are
. ribs.
Five of the Starship production pro-
totypes currently under construction
have airframes laid up of graphite and
Nomex laminates. while a sixth-
actually flfSt on the schedule to fly next
year-has been fined with a fuselage
wound of 900 miles of graphite fila-
ment impregnated with epoxy resin.
Baked in an autoclave over a removable-
mandril, the fllament-wound fuselage,
like the space shuttle booster casings
that inspired it , is extremely light and
rigid. Beech wants to study both types
of construction before making a pro-
duction decision.
Seeing Beech's huge new multi-
million-dollar autoclave, which
dominates the new Starship production
facilicy at Wichita and looks like a sec-
tion cut from the hull of a Trident sub-
ml!rine, one can't help but think that
Beech and parent company Raytheon
might be covering their bets on the
Stars.hip's success by developing an in-
house capability to subcontract its com-
posite fabrication capabilities to other
companies inside and outside of avia-
8tECH STARSHIP
HU.H SPEED
Fli&HT
LOW SPEED FU6NT
FlAPS DOWN
SKE:TCtf
.lz IS ~ ~ E A T E . t 'tHAN /
1
-VARIABLE SWEPT C.ANARP
STARSHIP: HANDLING THE PITCH
Many canard-equipped airplanes omit flaps because they would
run out of elevator trying to counteract the pitching moment generated
when flaps are deployed.
Starship's designers cleverly avoid the problem by allowing the
airplane's forward canard surface to pivot forward and backward.
This "variable sweep" is movable in flight. As shown, it is swept back
at higher speeds, resulting in a shorter moment arm (distance
between e.g. and center of lift of canard). At low speeds, with flaps
down, the canard is straight (no sweep) and the moment arm is
longer, allowing the elevators (on the canard) to exert greater force
to cope with the downward pitch caused by the lowered flaps.
(Sketches by Ron Neal, Gates Learjet.)
tion. After all, that's what Sikorsky
did, and the Stratford, Conn. helicopter
manufacturer is currently poised to
harvest an expected boom in composite
construction with a dedicated subcon-
tracting operation in Alabama.
ironically, Sikorsky will subcontract to
Gates-Piaggio for construction of all
the composite subassemblies for the
Avanti.
In many ways the more conservative
more on page 144
Comparison
continued from page 142
of the two, the Gates-Piaggio A vanti relies on a
structure that is 60-percent alwninum and 40-per-
cent composite media. The airplane's fuselage
and main wingbox are fabricated of aluminum
in the conventional manner, but with a new twist
introduced to general aviation airplanes by Gates.
The fuselage is built " from the outside in, " that
is, formed skin pieces are held to contour in a
massive "vacuum chuck" (a fiberglass female
mold drilled with vacuum holes) and frames are
attached to the skin, allowing tolerances to be
built "to the inside and not the outside." Accord-
ing to Gates Learjet general operations manager
Ronald Neal, "The result is a completed article
with close tolerances and extremely high quali-
ty.''
Composites, laid up of Kevlar, graphite, and
Nomex by Sikorsky, constitute the remainder of
the airframe, amounting to about 10 percent of
the aircraft's empty weight. These subassemblies
include the main wing control surfaces, forward
wing and nose structure, empennage, and engine
nacelles. Explaining the Avanti's mixed-media
construction, Neal confided that "neither Piag-
gio nor Learjet had the resources to do a lot of
research in composites. What we're doing is us-
ing proven technology within our _resources and
capabilities . I think we'll see airliners well into
the Twenty-frrst Century made of alwninum. The
damage characteristics of aluminum structures are
well understood. Not so for composites. How
many people out there know how to repair
composites?
"We can also build the airplane cheaper this
way," Neal continued, "and you have to
remember that the customer ultimately pays for
R&D. Lightning protection is another factor. We
understand how to protect an aluminum airplane
from lightning. Then there's maintainability and
interchangeability of parts. If a metal part doesn' t
fit, you can alter it, but you can't do that with
a composite part. You have to have the highest
quality tooling to avoid that problem with com-
posites.' '
Two Ways To Skin Craft
The Starship and A vanti offer an interesting
comparison in design philosophies, or the diverse
paths that two creative engineering groups can
choose to accomplish the same objective. The
airplanes' novel shapes also testify. to the com-
promises that engineers must accommodate in
achieving certain design goals. Phrased as a ques-
tion, the challenge facing Beech and Piaggio
engineers when they sat down to delineate their
next-generation airplanes was: "How can we best
design an eight- to ten- passenger, FAR-23 tur-
boprop that can cruise at the same altitudes and
speeds as the slower jets and fly at least 2,500
Midland Park, N.J. Nov. 1, 1985
nmi carrying four passengers in an ex-
tremely quiet stand-up cabin?" Or in
Beech's case, " ... a cabin as Large as
or larger than the King Air 200?"
The FAR 23 stipulation was an im-
portant COllsideration, since the more
stringent provisions of FAR 25 (re-
quired of jets and large transports)
would significantly increase certifica-
tion costs as well as complicate
operating procedures. But going with
FAR 23 also meant that gross weight
had to be kept under 12,500 lb, the
low-end threshold for FAR 25. In order
to accommodate their large cabins,
these would be big airframes, so keep-
ing weight down was going to be
critical. Hence, more than a little at-
tention would be given to structure and
construction media.
According to Gates Learjct's Neal,
the design group at Rinaldo Piaggio
started with the cabin it wanted and
engineered an airplane around it. "Us-
ing the P:l 66 [an earlier twin turboprop
pusher produced by Piaggio] as a
baseline,'' he reported, ''they quickly
realized that to optimize interior
volume, they had to move the wing
carry-through structure out of the
cabin.
Three Lifting Surfaces
" This presented a dilemma at first,
since they also wanted a fast airplane,
and, in terms of minimizing in-
terference drag [at the critical
wing/fuselage juncture], a mid-wing
configuration is best to create an end-
plate effect with the side of the
fuselage,'' Neal explained. ''So to get
the end-plate effect while keeping the
spar out of the cabin, they placed the
wing behind the aft pressure bulkhead
and thereby arrived at another dilem-
ma, which was how to maintain
balance and e.g. without having a
tail cone a mile long. ''
Piaggio's solution was the so-called
''three-lifting-surface concept.' ' Incor-
porating both a forward wing "to
balance out the cabin,. and a small aft-
mounted horizontal stabilizer/elevator
for pitch control, the arrangement per-
mitted a relatively short tailcone.
Although Piaggio could have gone to
a pure canard configuration, as Beech
did, Neal claimed the three-surface
concept offered the best compromise
between canard and conventional plan-
forms. Added Learjet's new senior v-p
of marketing Donald 0 'Mara, ''After
the Wright brothers, most designers
abandoned the canard, probably for
stability reasons. They realized that a
conventional t ailpl ane provided
superior static stability. ''
Not a true canard, the Avanti's for-
ward lifting surface works in conjunc-
tion with the conventional horizontal
stabilizer to trim the airplane over a
broad range of flight and e.g. condi-
tions. lt is not used for pitch control
and, in fact, is mounted to the fuselage
at a fixed angle of incidence.
Neal explained that "the pure
canard, by definition, has a much
larger e.g. travel range, thereby mak-
ing balance a major consideration.
Everything you put in the airplane
tends to make the e.g. move a long
distance. In addition, you must be very
careful in tailoring the control con-
figuration of the main and forward
wings. Pitch control is extremely
critical. To provide us better control
over balance and pitch, we retained the
[aft-mounted] horizontal stabilizer and
Aviation Convention News
elevator; but by optimizing the forward
surface, we could keep the aft surfaces
fairly small. "
Neal claimed that another advantage
of the three-surface arrangement is
superior distribution of trim drag. ''In
a conventional aircraft, trim drag is the
drag associated with the tail in trim-
ming the airplane-the more load on
the tail, the greater the drag. In the
A vanti, the forward surface is design-
ed to reduce downloading on the tail
at cruise. By redistributing trim drag,
we minimize the total drag of the
airplane." (See sketches.)
What The Flap Is About
Pitch stability of the pure canard is
further aggravated, Neal continued,
when flaps are incorporated in the main
wing. "When you lower the flaps, the
center of pressure moves aft and more
lift is generated by the main wing.
Unless the forward surface can com-
pensate for the additional l ift generated
by the main wing flaps, the tendency
is for the aircraft to pitch down, or
become nose heavy." Piaggio solved
this problem by simply adding flaps to
the forward wing. Area of the forward-
surface flaps was calculated to balance
the lift produced by the main wing
flaps. The two sets of devices arc in-
terconnected by an electromechanical
linkage and deployed simultaneously
by a single cockpit control.
In keeping with the Starship's radical
image, Beech adopted a correspond-
ingly unique solution to the flap
pitching-moment problem, designing a
variable-geometry canard surface. Like
the wings of some tactical aircraft, such
as the Grumman F-14 fighter and
Rockwell B-1 bomber, the two sides of
145
the Starship's canard can be swept fore
and aft relative to the longitudinal axis
of the airplane. In the Starship, of
course, the movable canard is intercon-
nected with the main wing flaps so that
when the flaps are extended, the left
and right sides of the canard, pivoted
at their fuselage mounting point, swing
forward.
With the flaps in the retracted posi-
tion, the canard surfaces are swept
back, providing a more favorable drag
configuration for high-speed cruise
flight. Angle of sweep varies from
minus four degrees forward to plus 30
degrees aft. "By sweeping the canard
forward," Neal observed, ''its center
of lift also moves forward, providing
a longer moment arm, thereby balanc-
ing the additional lift produced by
lowering the flaps on the main wing.''
(See sketch.)
Accordi ng to Beech' s executive v-p
of engineering, Chester Rembleske, the
Wichita manufacturer settled on a
canard configuration for the Starship
because "it was the only way we could
get the performance and people accom-
modation we wanted with currently
available engines while remaining
under 12,500 pounds. We simply
couldn't grow the King Air any more
to provide additional speed, range, or
more on next page
146
cominued from preceding page
cabin space Without busti ng the twelve-
five [FAR 23] limit. "
As Piaggio used the P. 166 as a
departure point, Beech's baseline
airplane was the King Air 200. (When
Beech began to consider ideas for its
next-generation airplane, the Dash 300
King Air had yet to be launched. Sup-
porting Rembleske's comments above,
Beech was forced to boost the King
Air's gross weight above 12,500 lb in
order to extract more performance
from the airplane.) Beginning in the
early 1970s, Beech investigated many
configurations-including one with
twin engines mounted inside the
fuselage driving a single pusher prop
a Ia Lear Fan- before settling on a
canard, or " tandem-wing,"
arrangement.
The reasons were s imilar to Piag-
gio's: to get the wing behind the cabin
and the engines as far to the rear as
possible to reduce vibration and interior
noise. Unlike the A vanti, however, the
Starship eliminated the conventional
empennage, incorporating rudders in
large winglets, dubbed "tipsails," on
the ends of the main wing. It was
believed that a conventional vertical
stabilizer mounted on the fuselage
would serve as a "sounding board,"
transmitting excessive noise and vibra-
tion into the cabin.
Pitch control was shared by elevons
on the main wing and an elevator on
the canard surface. A small ventral tin
and rudder driven by an automatic yaw
damper was added to the bottom of the
tailcone to promote directional stabili-
ty in the event of .m engine failure.
" The canard planfonn gave us ad-
vantages no other configuration
could," Rembleske pointed out. A few
of these included "favorable empty- to
gross- weight capabilities and net wet-
ted area for a given comfort envelope
n.e . cabin size] ... an extremely wide
operational e.g. range ... superior
visibility from both the cabin and
cockpit. .. a deeper cabin with more
headroom than the King Air' s . .. and
good stall characteristics."
According to Rembleske, Beech
designed the Starship so ''the whole
airplane doesn' t stall, just the canard;
then the nose drops, returning flying
speed so that the main wing never
stalls." Posited Learjet's Neal : "With
a pure canard airplane, you have to be
very sure that, in a stall, the front sur-
face stalls first, otherwise the airplane
will go 'over on its back. "
To assist it in tailoring the canard
configuration to its needs, Beech
retained consulting engineer Burt Rutan
of Mojave, Calif. , considered one of
the country's leading authorities on the
behavior of tandem-wing airplanes.
When Beech and Rutan completed their
initial renderings of the Starship, the
aircraft bore an uncanny resemblance
to Rutan's popular VariEze kit plane,
prompting one wag to dub the big tur-
boprop the " HugeEze. "
Beech then cqmmissioned Scaled
Composites, of which Rutan was one
of the principals, to build the
85-percent-scale development pro-
totype which Rembleske termed "a big
wind-tunnel test model. " During the
testing program, the scaled Starship has
flown as high as 42,250 ft and in ex-
cess of 400 mph, "demonstrating ex-
cellent asymmetrical stability
throughout its speed range. "[In July,
Beech announced that it Juu1 purchased
Scaled Composites from Rutan and his
associates and had appointed him a
Beech vice-president and member of the
Beech board of directors. -Ed.}
The POC Starship allowed Beech to
refine the design before committing
itself to building a more expensive full-
scale airplane. Constructed mostly of
foam and fiberglass in the manner of
Rutan' s kit planes, the POC easily ac-
cepted modifications. Most notable of
these are small fences positioned on the
top of the main wing between the flaps
and elcvons and six smaJI projections
termed "vortilons" attached to the
underside of the wing leading edge,
three to a side, in front of the.elevons.
Rembleske said the vortilons ''smooth
. out spanwise flow over the wing and
raise the angle of attack at which the
wing stalls."
In addition to Beech's test pilots, the
POC airplane has been flown by FAA
representatives and a selection of cor-
porate aviators (most with King Air ex-
perience) to gauge pilot reaction, which
Rembleske claims has been "extremely
favorable. '' Even though the final Star-
ship design has been frozen, Beech
continues to use the 85-percent aircraft,
most recently to test installation of the
new Dash 67 version of the Pratt &
Whitney of Canada PT6A gas turbines
which will power the full-size Starship.
In the 12,500-Jb production Starship,
the Dash 67s will be flat-rated at 1,000
shp. each and will drive four-blade
posher props specially developed for
the airplane by Hartzell. Called "jet-
fans'' by . Beech, the props have
relatively high disk loading. The
powerplants are encased in slim
nacelles mounted close tothe fuselage
(to minimize differential thrust in
single-engine operations) on the top
surface of the main wing. The nacelles
are positioned so that prop disks fall
almost completely aft of the fuselage.
The A vanti will also use a pair of
PWC PT6As; however, because the
multinational entry's gross weight is
projected to fall 2, 700 lb less than that
of the Starship, the smaller Dash 66
version of the engine (flat-rated at 800
shp) has been chosen to provide motive
power. Hartzell also is fabricating
props for the A vanti, which will feature
four -scimitar-shaped blades of com-
posite construction. While the A van-
ti 's gas turbines are, likewis.c, mounted
atop the aft wing close-in to the
fuselage, like the Starship's, the
nacelles are carefully sculpted to incor-
porate a subtle area-rule effect to
minimize drag. " In designing them, "
Neal said, "we had to consider the
prop flow field, wing juncture, and the
fact that in the position where they're
mounted, the fuselage is beginning to
pull away [taper to the tail].''
Both aircraft employ high-aspect
main' wings; however, each is quite dif-
ferent in planform. The Gates-
Piaggio's all-aluminum example
features a straight leading edge, a
tapered trailing edge, and spans 45.4
ft. According to Neal, it is based on
''an advanced airfoil optimized for high
speeds and laminar flow.' ' Designed
for Piaggio by aeronautical engineers
at Ohio State University ,. the airfoil
reportedly is derived ''from NASA
studies." At 62.96lb/sq ft, the Avan-
ti's wing loading is fairly high; Neal
cited wing toading for the King Air 300
as 46.2 and .the Cessna Citation II as
41 .2. The wing is "simple, easy to
build, " he said, "with machinedparts,
front and rear spars, upper and lower
skins, and sheet-metal ribs."
Starship's wing, with an average
24-deg aft sweep, is contoured into
thick, strake-like sections at the root,
lending it almost a .. cranked-arrow"
appearance. Most of the airplane' s
3,400 lb of fuel resides within the
massive root sections. The wing.spans
54 ft between its 8.5-ft-high tipsails,
which are canted slightly inward. Ac-
cording to sources at Beech, the wing
consists of five different airfoils and is
equipped with Fowler-type flaps which
significantly increase its area when ex-
tended, and a Hporous titanium leading
edge'' (also incorporated on the canard
surface) to accommodate -the.aircraft's
glycol anti-icing system.
The-hearts of the airplanes-literally,
their raison d'etre- are t ~ i r cabins,
both of which are expansiv.e by tur-
boprop standards. Beech likes to com-
pare the Starship's passenger compart-
ment tothat of the HS 125 business j et.
Five feet 6' in. wide, 5 ft 5.5 in. high,
and a whopping 16 ft long (not in-
cluding the cockpit), it is a foot wider,
9 in. taller, and more than 3 ft longer
than that of the baseline King Air. The
cabin contains fore and .aft baggage
compartments, both accessible in
flight, with a combined capacity of 55
cu ft. Configured with individual chairs
and a side-facingcouch, the cabin can
seat up to eight passengers. With a dif-
ferential of 8.4 psi, the pressurization
system will maintain an 8,000-ft in-
terior at the Starship's maximum
altitude of 41 ,000 ft.
While a yard shor.ter than t he Star-
ship's cabin, the AvantFs passenger
compartment is 6 in. wider and 3.5 in.
higher. Gates-Piaggio likes to boast that
the A vanti' s cabin ''offers more height
than the Falcon 200 and more width
than the Citation ill.'' Its 42-cu-ft aft
baggage compartment can be loaded
through an exterior. hatch and is also
.accessible in flight. The cabin can be
configured to accommodate up to seven
passengers in lounge-type chairs. With
a pressure differential of 9:0 psi, the
A vanti can carry a sea-1evel cabin to
24,000 ft, or maintain. slightly over
7,000 ft inside at its max cruise altitude
of 41,000 ft.
Both airptanes will be certified for
single-pilot operation (meaning an ex-
tra passenger can be carried in the
copilot's seat, fuel load permitting).
The Gates-Piaggio panel will combine
both electronic flight instruments
(EFIS) and electromechanical gauges.
"We're not going heavy into EFIS, "
Neal said, ''because it costs money and
adds weight. ''
In keeping with its futuristic image,
the Starship will offer an optional ''all-
glass'' flight deck in which all in-
strumentation, except standby gauges,
will be electronic, including airspeed
indicators, altimeters, and engine in-
. struments. Incorporating no less than
14 cathode-ray tubes (CRTs), the
highly integrated digital array, in-
cluding a flight management system
and electronic tuning heads, has been
subcontracted to Collins which
showcased a mockup of the panel at the
NBAA Convention.
I ''All engine instrumentation will be
combined in a single CRT which also
adds an advisory capability for warn-
ings, '' Rembleske said. Called an
Engine Indication and Crew Advisory
System .(EICAS) "it's a step ahead of
the system Boeing uses in its new-
generation {757 and 767] airliners,'' he
said. Because the panel integrates
. many functions with fewer indicators,
Rembleske claims it cuts down on
1 weight and volume by "reducing the
1 number of..black boxes.''
I While Beech and Gates- ex-
ecutives have been relatively tight:-
l lipped about each projects un-
147
til recently, the simmering marketing
confrontation has begun to draw them
out. To Neal's observation that
' ' technical risk is much higher on the
Starship, '' Rembleske answered, ' ' I
don' t know what he's talking about.
We know what our airplane will do; we
know its performance capabilities. It's
probably been tested more before en-
try into production than any airplane
ever developed. That's why w.e built
the 85-percent-scale model. We know
what we've got, and they still have to
fly their airplane.''
Concerning comments by Neal and
O' Mara about stability and pitch con-
trol of the pure canard configuration,
Rembleske argued, "We're shooting to
meet the same stability standards re-
quired for a. conventional aircraft. If
anything, we hope . to exceed the
margins established by the FAA for
. stability and control. You can come up
with any opinion, depending upon
which side you're on.
''All of our assumptions have been
proven out in flight testing of the
85-percent airplane. We've flown it in
all sorts of configurations-one flap ex-
tended and the other retracted, one side
of the canard cranked forward and the
other aft, andso on-and, basically, the
airplane was completely flyable, . safe,
and controllable. Pitch control has not
been a problem any more with the
-more on page 150
canard than it would be with a conventional
airplane. We went through the same steps in
tailoring the aircraft that we would have followed
with a conventional one.''
Defending the Avanti's mostly aluminum con-
struction, Neal said, ''It gives us better control
over quality and weight and borrows heavily on
our twenty years of building all-metal aircraft.
Composites will make gradual inroads, but our
studies indicate that you don't achieve the weight
savings you started out to get, and they're more
expensive to produce. The materials cost more-
considerably more-and they' re labor-intensive
to work with.
"Also, you need more floor space to fabricate
composites because the molds have to be horizon-
tal; you can't pour plastic uphill. There must be
a reason why Boeing isn't designing all-composite
airliners. I admire Beech for what it's doing, but
I think it's a costly process." O'Mara wasn't so
kind: ''I think the only reason Beech is doing it
is to get a smooth finish on its airplane, which
we're going to achieve anyway with aluminum."
Countered Rembleske, "I think our experience
has indicated otherwise. We are getting weight
savings, and if you use proper design, you can
make composites work for you in a weight-
savings sense. Obviously, you' re going to have
-to establish design and manufacturing procedures
to keep costs under control, too.'' One of the
reasons why Beech chose to build the Starship
from graphite epoxy, Rembleske confided, was
because ''we wanted to maintain laminar flow
over as much of the airframe as we could through
clean airfoils and a smooth, rigid skin that can
retain its shape up to limit loads. You can't do
that with aluminum because it sags between ribs
and frames under loading.''
In terms of performance, Gates-Piaggio claims
a significant advantage over the Starship in speed.
''Superior aerodynamics'' and considerably
lighter gross weight, they say, will allow the
A vanti to achieve a maximum speed of 400 kt,
nearly 50 kt faster than the Starship's projected
max velocity of 352 kt. ''Anything above 370 will
clean up all the turboprops and butt right up
against the side of the Citation [I and II],'' Lear-
jet's O'Mara bragged. So there would be no hard
feelings in the debate with Beech, he added,
''Building an airplane is a series of compromises.
What we're talking about is how the two of us
have chosen our compromises.''
Both manufacturers claim their airplanes will
have ''transcontinental range.'' Gates-Piaggio
lists Avanti's range at 320 kt and 41,000 ft with
four passengers and NBAA IFR reserves as 2, 100
nmi. Although we're getting into apples and
oranges here, Beech cites ''range with max fuel,''
economy cruise of 272 kt at 41,000 ft, and 45-min
(VFR) reserves as 2,687 nmi, but does not men-
tion the number of passengers conveyed.
Maximum twin-engine rates of climb at sea
level of the Avanti and Starship are predicted as,
respectively, 3,650 and 3,250 fpm. With one
engine out, ROC falls off to 1,250 and 1,180 fpm.
Standard-day sea-level takeoff over a 50-ft
obstacle will require 2,413 fi for the Avanti,
2,400 ft for the Starship. With maximum fuel
aboard, the Avanti's payload is limited to 810 lb,
the Starship's to 915 lb.
This is all very impressive for airplanes
motivated through the sky by propellers-until
one comes to price tags. The Starship may very
well turn out to be 40 percent more fuel efficient
than a jet, as its developers claim, but purchasers
will pay dearly to own this kind of performance.
Or to put it another way, you could buy a lot of
fuel to fly a trusty and conventional King Air,
Conquest, or even a used Lear 25 around for a
long time for the difference in price.
Beech is quoting the equipped price of a Star-
ship for 1987 delivery (certification is expected
in late 1986) as $3.3 million. Gates-Piaggio feels
it has another advantage over Starship with its
equipped price for Avanti of $2.7 million.
Although quoted in 1983 dollars, O'Mara said
the partnership's ''target is to stay in that range.
It has to be competitive.''
For comparison, the 1985 price of a Citation
II is about $2.2 million, while that of the recent-
ly introduced Citation S/II is just under $3
million. At the NBAA Convention, Cessna an-
nounced an early-model Citation 500 "reman"
program that would recycle and upgrade old 500s
into Citation I configurations and sell them for
$1.5 million. Prior to Gates' 17 -percent price cut,
also declared at NBAA, a 1985 Lear 35A was
going out the door for around $3.9 million. A
King Air 300 currently claims something in the
neighborhood of $2.6 million.
'' Starship will move closer to the jets in terms
of price but not necessarily performance, '' Ron
Neal said. " We see our market as current King
Air operators and our competition as the Cita-
tion I and II. Those were our original goals and
they haven't changed."
Chet Rembleske said Beech would also appeal
"to current King Air owners" with the Starship,
but identified his competition as ''any of the $3-
to $4-million airplanes, including the small jets.''
How would Starship fare against A vanti? "I can't
answer that because I don't know what their
airplane will do,' ' said the Beech engineering
chief who retired last month.
While Gates-Piaggio had written no firm
orders for A vantis by mid-August, Rembleske
said Beech has been accepting $100,000
deposits for Starships for some time, though
he defended the actual number of orders
collected as ''proprietary.'' If a Starship
customer agrees to buy a new King Air as an
interim aircraft, Rembleske commented, Beech
will waive the $100,000 deposit for a delivery
position.
While the A vanti and Starship have the look
of the future-and there' s no denying that looks
sell-the trick of moving a turboprop through the
sky at 350 kt at 41,000 ft has already been per-
formed. Piper's Cheyenne 400LS has been put-
ting its block times up against the up-and-coming
competition in its quest to win friends and in-
fluence people.
The new technology represented by A vanti and
Starship allows these airplanes to combine their
350-kt and higher cruise speeds with the walk-
around room of much larger aircraft. By break-
ing with past methodologies, their designers hope
to eliminate the compromises business airplane
buyers have had to make in the past.