DayJet gearing up for service start

 - April 27, 2007, 11:19 AM

DayJet founder, president and CEO Ed Iacobucci dropped by AIN’s offices last month to provide an update on progress with his per-seat, on-demand VLJ air-taxi service. The company had 100 employees and had taken delivery of the first three of 310 Eclipse 500s it has ordered or taken options on. The aircraft awaited installation of a third attitude indicator before they could be used for Part 135 pilot training and operation. Eight or nine Eclipse 500s will be required for the service to be launched, and between 30 and 40 will have to be on strength for the operation to achieve commercial critical mass for the southeast region in which DayJet will initially operate (among five Dayports, already announced as Gainesville, Lakeland, Boca Raton, Pensacola and Tallahassee). DayJet has planned 1.5 million flights since last summer to test the theory on which the company is founded.

So far, 600 members from 120 companies have signed up for the air-taxi service, at a cost of $250 each, which entitles them to access the network and fly a minimum of four times a year. Depending on trip length and the degree of schedule flexibility the passenger is prepared to accept, the cost to ride on a DayJet will be between $1 and $4 per mile, according to Iacobucci. Each Eclipse will have three passenger seats and two pilots: “We lose a little money with one seat filled and make a little with two filled.” He expects the typical trip length to be 260 nm.

Iacobucci said that as of April 10 there were 36 pilots in various stages of training, that DayJet will do type ratings, and that the Dulles FSDO has approved the company’s Part 135 training curriculum. By the end of next month, the pilot roster will have risen to 60, along with 12 maintenance technicians and 15 customer service people. To be considered for hiring, a pilot must have at least 3,000 hours total time and 500 hours jet PIC.

A $50 million series C funding round was concluded in the first quarter of this year, and this will provide the necessary money for a second-quarter launch of the service, Iacobucci said. Including that $50 million, $68 million has been invested in DayJet thus far.

Looking ahead, Iacobucci expects by the end of this year to have more than 50 Eclipse 500s, 250 pilots, 50 maintenance technicians, 75 customer care people and between 10 and 15 Dayports in four southeastern states.