Designed in the mid-1980s by San Antonio aeronautical engineer Ed Swearingen, the SyberJet SJ30 was a six to eight-person business jet. With its highly swept wing, it was designed to be more efficient than other business jets of the same size. Powered by two Williams FJ44 turbofan engines, the plane had a top speed of 559 miles per hour.
The SJ30 went on to achieve the following FAI/NAA records:
- Speed over a closed course while flying from San Antonio, Texas to Goose Bay, Canada.
- Speed over a closed course while flying from San Antonio, Texas to London, England.
- Speed over a closed course while flying from London, England to Dubai. UAE.
Initially, the plane was to be built in Delaware
Priced to sell for around $2 million in October 1988 Swearingen’s company SyberJet Aircraft signed a deal with Gulfstream Aerospace for the plane to be made by them and sold as the Gulfstream Gulfjet. A year later the Savannah, Georgia-headquartered plane maker withdrew from the deal, causing SyberJet Aircraft to seek backing from San Antonio, Texas property developers the Jaffe Group. At the time, the plan was to manufacture the plane next to the Dover Air Force base in Delaware,
The aircraft made its maiden flight on February 13, 1991, and was later displayed at the 1991 Paris Air Show in France. Backed by the State of Delaware to help provide local jobs when they removed their support for the project, the program was rescued by Lockheed. The major American aircraft manufacturer arranged a joint venture between a group of Taiwanese businessmen to fund development of the
SJ30 to offset Taiwan’s purchase of F16 fighter jets.
A deal was made with a group of Taiwanese investors
A company called the “Sino Swearingen Aircraft Corporation” was formed, and the plan was to move aircraft manufacturing from Delaware to Martinsburg, West Virginia. They increased the plane’s range by tweaking the design with a four-foot four-inch longer fuselage and increasing the plane’s wingspan by six feet. The modified prototype flew for the first time on November 8, 1996, and entered certification testing a year later. Sino Swearingen wanted the plane to be certified as a Commuter Category aircraft, arguing that it was safer than other Part 23 Commuter Category aircraft.
Under the rules at the time, only the Fairchild Metro 23 and the Beechcraft 1900D had been given this category rating. The approval of Sino Swearingen’s request allowed for the SJ30 to have a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 12,500 lbs, paving the way for other plane makers to follow suit. Development of the plane stalled in April 2003 following a crash during the certification stage. The SJ30 finally received its Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification on October 27, 2005, with the first production version being delivered to a customer on November 1, 2006.
A newer version of the aircraft is to be certified this year
In 2008 a group of investors from Dubai bought Sino Swearingen, leaving the Taiwanese government and private investors with a small stake in the plane. Following the buyout, the company’s name was changed to the Emivest Aerospace Corporation. On October 26, 2010, Emivest filed for bankruptcy after failing to get funding and the plane’s manufacture ceased.
A part supplier for the aircraft, Metalcraft Technologies, Inc. of Cedar City, Utah, bought the company in 2011. Soon after, they announced they were forming a new company called “SyberJet Aircraft.” Further modifications were made to the design and the plane is now planned to receive its new certification, scheduled for some time in 2023.