October 21, 2013
By Alton K. Marsh
For at least two decades Ed Swearingen had the aviation press corps in the palm of his hand. We would follow him around the press rooms at the National Business Aviation Association convention as his airplane was the next big thing. At the time, it was. The aircraft's designation changed from SA-30 to SJ-30, then SJ30-2, and we couldn't have been more excited. Now, under ownership of Metalcraft Technologies, the SyberJet SJ30 is on the verge of making it into the market.
It promises to deliver its owner nonstop coast-to-coast across the United States. The company's Mark Fairchild has been with the organization 18 years, and has seen its journey from iteration to iteration, owner to owner. There are signs that the light at the end of the tunnel is actually the sun, and not a train coming the other way.
Now there is a repair station for the SJ30 in Cedar City, Utah. A factory pilot training program has been established with Fairchild, who has 1,200 hours in the aircraft, and Mark Elwess who has 1,000 hours in it.
There's also a snazzy new spaceship-like interior for the aircraft. Critics of the airplane in past years surmised that it had gone out of date in the decades since it was just a twinkle in Swearingen's eye. It has even been the subject of an article in Business Jet Interiors magazine. The Utah governor's office has approved financial incentives for the company totaling nearly $45 million.
This time, maybe this time, as the love song goes, the SJ30 has a chance to realize the dream.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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