Another Start-up Hopes To Ride VLJ Bandwagon

 - November 15, 2006, 11:56 AM

Earthjet–a proposed new light-jet air-taxi network–says that it has narrowed the choice of manufacturers to two companies to build the start-up’s envisaged airplanes. According to company president Dean Rotchin, one of the contenders is already flying a prototype of a jet that is close to Earthjet’s desired specifications–flying four passengers up to 1,000 miles in a cabin larger than that of a very light jet (VLJ). If this model is selected, the new service could be operational in 18 months, he claimed, and if it opts for the other manufacturer it will take three years. In early October, the West Palm Beach, Fla.-based firm said that it had sold its first two “master franchise rights.” One deal was struck for a Canadian network with former airline boss Stephen Smith, for an undisclosed number. Rotchin said the other agreement, covering Latin America, was made with another former airline executive, Ronald Fume. It is valued at $6 million Rotchin claimed, based on his assumption that as many as 800 of the new jets will be required for air-taxi operations in the region. Rotchin was formerly with would-be VLJ entrant Safire Aircraft.