Ant farmers have a goal: keep the ant colony alive. The ant farmer’s job is to keep the ant colony thriving in the face of predators, disease, poison and human beings stomping them to death. But despite the best efforts of their enemies, the ants usually survive because the ant farmers designed a robust colony, one that could survive stomping and poisoning and predators and battles with other ant colonies.
The FAA completed validation flights last month for DayJet’s fleet of 12 Eclipse 500s, bringing the company one step closer to launching the first fully digital operation. The company has designed an operating system–affectionately known as “Hal”–that manages its day-to-day operations and all requirements for the Part 135 certificate.
VLJ air-taxi start-up DayJet of Delray Beach, Fla., announced today that it had secured $140 million in debt financing, which it will use to buy its fleet of Eclipse 500s. Previous rounds of private-equity financing had raised $68 million, bringing total financing to $208 million. DayJet founder and CEO Ed Iacobucci said last month at a seminar in New York that raising money for the company has been the hardest thing he’s had to do.
Even though “ATXA” looks as if it belongs on the New York Stock Exchange ticker, add it to your lexicon of GA lobbying groups. The Air Taxi Association (ATXA) is open for business.
Air-taxi operators and potential operators used a recent VLJ forum, “Business Models for VLJs and Light Jets,” to outline their plans for using the new class of jets to offer point-to-point service.
After five years of study and planning and spending and simulating, DayJet is within weeks of flying paying passengers on its small but growing fleet of Eclipse 500s. DayJet founders Ed and Nancy Iacobucci developed the DayJet idea after running a traditional charter operation and deciding that very light jets (VLJs) offered a unique opportunity.
The Air Taxi Association was officially launched today as a way to bring together companies that operate principally VLJs on a per-seat, on-demand basis, though at least one operator is using piston-driven Cirrus SR22s for the job. The eight founding members include familiar names such as budding Eclipse 500 operator DayJet, as well as some lesser-known start-ups such as Atlanta’s Imagine Air and Switzerland’s Jetbird.
Eclipse Aviation will open its first factory-owned service center in Gainesville, Fla., tomorrow. The Avio NG avionics system is behind schedule, according to a June 10 Eclipse customer/investor update, but the new avionics have been installed in a flight-test 500 and powered up. Flight testing should start later this month, according to Eclipse.
DayJet invited members of the press to sample the company’s service as it nears next month’s launch of per-seat regional VLJ on-demand charter operations. Yesterday, two reporters and a DayJet employee flew in an Eclipse 500 with DayJet pilots Don Osmondson and Rick Hemphill. The flight was planned from DayJet’s headquarters in Boca Raton to Gainesville, Fla., but diverted to Lakeland because of a broken layer of clouds at Gainesville.
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.