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  Editor’s Briefing
by Rebecca Groom Jacobs
Confessions of an Old Grouchy Aviation Skeptic
  The following is guest editorial by my father Randy Groom, an industry veteran and owner-pilot.
2020marks the 40th year since I left college and joined the general aviation indus- try at Beechcraft in Wichita. In those 40 years, I have watched with amazement as new designs and new airframe companies attempted, and in some cases, succeeded in entering the marketplace. I thought it might be interesting as we enter this new decade to reflect on some of those failures and successes and contrast them with some of the latest developments on the board for the future. The first design that comes to mind (probably no surprise) is the Starship, which was announced early in my career at Beech. I was incredibly proud and excited to see Beech “reach for the stars” with a futuristic design to replace the venerable King Air. I was convinced at the time that we had a winner on our hands. Seven years later, I had moved to a Beechcraft dealer and we picked up our first Starship – serial number 10. I felt “super cool” flying the airplane, but the performance and reliability fell far short of expectations
and ended up being an enormous business failure.
I think it is important to point out that just because a new product becomes a business failure doesn’t necessarily mean that the aircraft was a bad airplane. The later serial number Starships proved to be more reliable and better
2 • TWIN & TURBINE / March 2020
performers, but by that time the negative reputation was impossible to overcome.
During the 1990s, the Very Light Jet (VLJ) “craze” was in full swing with at least a dozen different companies, many of which were startups, were being designed, the most notable being the Eclipse. There was incredible hype that the “skies would darken” with VLJ’s with Eclipse being the leader. I was a skeptic of Eclipse’s ability to pull this off, particularly at their announced initial price close to that of a Beech Baron. One after one, most of these startup VLJ companies closed their doors, draining the pocketbooks of many deposit holders and investors, creating a tidal wave of new aviation skeptics. Eclipse certified and delivered several hundred airplanes before going bankrupt and al- legedly burning through a billion dollars. Again, a colossal business failure, but I am told by one of my hangar neighbors that his late production Eclipse is a great airplane, quite fast and efficient.
Also, during the 1990s, a number of single-engine turbo- props were under development and as a King Air salesman I went into high gear of skepticism. Who in the world would want a turbine airplane with one engine? Oops, I really
























































































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