A business airplane produced by the Raytheon company, the Starship sports one of the most unique (and, IMHO, coolest) designs in all of civil aviation.

The appearance of the Starship is rather like that of a scaled up Rutan EZ Flyer. In fact, Burt Rutan participated in the Starship's design.

The Starship sports a rear-mounted wing with front mounted canard foreplanes. The sweep of the canards are adjustable in flight and computer controlled. The main advantage of this configuration is efficiency. The center of lift in a traditional airplane design is behind the center of gravity. Unchecked, the lift from the wings would exert an upward torque on the rear of the plane, causing it to spin uncontrollably about its center of gravity. To counteract this tendency, horizontal stabilizers are employed to exert a downward torque on the rear of the plane. Because the horizontal stabilizers are mounted farther behind the center of gravity than the wings, the amount of downward force they must exert to cancel out the upward torque exerted by the wings is smaller than the upward force exerted by the wings. The result is that the net lift in this system is positive, however efficiency is reduced because the horizontal stabilizers are negating some of the lift provided by the wing.

In the Starship, the center of lift from the main wing is behind the center of gravity. The center of lift of the forward mounted canard, however, is in front of the center of gravity. The main wing and the canard each cancel out the other's torque, however as they are on opposite sides of the center of gravity, they both do this while producing lift, hence a more efficient design.

The Starship has no proper verticle stabilizer, however it has two winglets at the tips of the wings. Two Pratt & Whitney turboprop engines (1200SHP each) are mounted on the wings inboard of the winglets, and each drives a 5 bladed propeller with a diameter of 104 inches in a 'pusher-prop' configuration.

The result of this design is an airplane that looks quite unlike anything else flying, with the possible exception of the afformetioned EZ Flyer.

The Starship was also unique in being the first plane to combine turboprop engines, a pressurized cabin and construction consisting largely of composite materials.

Unfortunately, the Starship was not successful from a commercial standpoint. Only 53 were built.

Specs:

  • Maximum Speed: 335 knots (385 mph)
  • Range: Up to 1576 nautical miles
  • Maximum Altitude: 41,000 feet
  • Maximum Takeoff Weight: 14,900 lbs.
  • Wingspan: 54'4.7"
  • Length: 46'1"


Sources:
http://www.aviatorservices.com/starship_history_1.htm
http://brunton.cottagesoft.com/starship.html

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