It’s all too easy for industry analysts to say that if the air-limo concept–point-to-point service for the masses–is possible, someone would already have done it. Perhaps they’re missing the bigger picture, which is that all of the ingredients to create a viable air limo aren’t yet available.
Ed Iacobucci, founder and former chairman of software maker Citrix Systems, on April 25 announced his latest project–regional, per-seat, on-demand air-limo service using Eclipse 500s. His company, DayJet, has placed a firm order for 239 Eclipse 500s and taken options for 70 more and plans to start service with the very light jets by the middle of next year. Iacobucci hopes to transform regional business travel in the U.S.
As demand for commercial air travel increases in India, business aviation entrepreneurs are clamoring for position in a classic chicken-and-egg scenario. Those who will be successful must make an early entry into the market, but they are severely limited in their ability to operate because the infrastructure to support general aviation is still being developed.
Market surveys have guided industry sages for decades, and Honeywell’s and Rolls-Royce’s prog- nostications this year certainly told business aviation what it wants to hear. Both outlooks bear good news. Though the two reports do not agree in all aspects and use some significantly different parameters, the overall message is uniform: look for strong performance in the business aviation sector for the next decade or two.
Start-up Spectrum Aeronautical of Encinitas, Calif., joined the crowded very light jet segment last month when it unveiled a nine-seat, $3.65 million all-composite VLJ at the NBAA Convention. Managing director Linden Blue (known to many as the father of the Beech Starship) bills the 7,300-pound-mtow Spectrum 33–powered by a pair of Williams International FJ33 engines–as a “full-size airplane at half the weight.”
You might not be familiar with the name Mechtronix Systems, but representatives from the Montreal company nonetheless predict you may soon find yourself strapping into one of their full-flight simulators for recurrent or transition training–and saving a significant amount of money in the process.
Marking an important milestone on the Eclipse 500’s development path, Meggitt last month delivered the first flight-ready autopilot hardware to Eclipse Aviation in Albuquerque, N.M.
The prospect of marginally qualified pilots hurtling through the rarefied atmosphere of the flight levels in very light jets and promoting fear and loathing in the heavy-metal professionals–which is how some people view the imminent advent of the “Volksjet” era–has been a topic of lively debate of late, and no surprise to Eclipse Aviation founder, president and CEO Vern Raburn.
Beyond the merriment that the very light jet is coming to market, the insurance industry is preparing to drop the curtain in the final act.