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 missed the mark on that one. Particularly with the PC-12, which clearly inflicted some damage on our B200 sales.
And then there was the Cirrus phenomenon. Once again, as a Bonanza salesman, I thought, who in the world would want to buy a fixed-gear “plastic” airplane from an unknown start-up company? After all, hadn’t just about all the other startups that I had ever heard about vanished into vapor? Oops, missed the mark again. Cirrus tore into the market- place with strong marketing, a very credible product and continuous refinement. And now they have a jet that will capitalize on a large, loyal installed base of SR22 owners and will likely become the most popular VLJ ever.
So now we enter into a new decade with lots of new designs on the boards and me, an almost retired grouchy aviation skeptic. As I have confessed, I haven’t always been perfect at predicting success or failure in this industry, but here goes:
Flying Cars – In my simple mind, cars and airplanes have very different structural requirements, so if we are talking about an airplane that flies in, folds up and becomes a car on our highways, I can’t see it.
Electric Airplanes – It would be great to have an air- plane that was economical and had a low carbon footprint. Today’s battery technology is such that none of those air- planes would likely have the range to satisfy most private owners. However, flight schools where the missions only require an hour or so of endurance are a great application until such time that the technology advances.
Vertical Takeoff and Landing Drones (Ride Share Use) – This arena reminds me of the VLJ days of the 1990s. There are a ton of start-ups, most of which I predict will disappear into the vapor. Again, electric powerplants will likely limit capability and the regulatory hurdles for airspace and passenger carrying will likely take many years to sort out. However, I think these machines will likely prove their capability in the short-haul cargo arena before passengers ever step into an aircraft with no pilot.
Supersonic Business Jets – Maybe someday. But I will likely be in a retirement home still not able to wrap my mind around the cost to accomplish such an ambitious project.
In short, I hope I am wrong. In my lifetime, there are amazing accomplishments and advances in technology, efficiency and affordability for general aviation. We need it as an industry to excite and attract young people into our industry. And if we do, this old skeptic will smile ear to ear.
  Randy Groom is president of his consult- ing business Groom Aviation. He has held senior leadership positions with Piedmont Hawthorne Aviation, Piper Aircraft and Beechcraft where he served as president. He has 11,000 hours of flight experience and is a proud owner of a Beechcraft Bonanza and Aviat Husky. Randy can be contacted at
   Ocean Reef
March 2020 / TWIN & TURBINE • 3

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