JetBird’s Start-up Grounded by Delays at Embraer
Production delays at Embraer’s factory and an associated bottleneck in the pilot training process for its new Phenom 100 light jet have delayed the service launch of air-taxi firm JetBird. The company expected to begin revenue flights last month from its initial operating base at Cologne, Germany, but CEO Stefan Vilner said this will now happen “before the end of this year.” Vilner told AIN that delays in initial Phenom 100 deliveries to JetBird and other customers had in turn meant that too many pilots simultaneously needed to access the available training infrastructure, creating a logjam. JetBird also raised a further €5 million ($7.3 million) in capital last month from an undisclosed investor. Vilner indicated that the company is still seeking further investment, though he said JetBird already has all the working capital it needs. In September last year, as the credit crunch was beginning to squeeze business aviation start-up firms, undisclosed Saudi Arabian investors paid €10 million ($14.6 million) for a 9.3-percent stake in the company. Around that time it also secured debt financing from Royal Bank of Scotland on the first 25 of the 59 Phenom 100s for which JetBird holds firm orders.