“Most of our travelers will come off the highways,” DayJet Vice President Traver Gruen-Kennedy told a Congressional policy forum last month, strongly suggesting that any lessening of road traffic enhances public safety.
“We will be serving secondary markets from point A to point B,” he stated. “We’re not going to be flying in Class B airspace.” He also explained that DayJet, an air taxi business that will begin operations soon in Florida, will not be part of any airline hub-and-spoke system but will fly almost entirely between markets currently having little or no other air service.
“To a great extent, these are growing communities that are seeking economic development opportunities and have a lot of businesses within them,” he said. DayJet has ordered 309 Eclipse 500s and anticipates its first delivery shortly following FAA certification of the little jet, expected this month.
He emphasized DayJet’s working relationship with the FAA, including “working with Air Traffic Control to help them understand our flight plans and how we …(use)… airspace that is either under-utilized or more or less not used today. We’ve invested in onboard technology…to take advantage of things like WAAS approaches and ADS-B, FMS, TCAS and so on.”
Former NBAA President Jack Olcott also spoke to the group. He emphasized a NASA study showing that the average 500 mile airline trip is accomplished at 90 mph or less, if it’s door-to-door time being measured. That and similar studies also show that 90% of the U.S. population lives within 20 miles of a general aviation airport, 98% within 30 miles of one, but more than 60% live at least 100 miles from a hub airport served by scheduled airlines, Olcott said.
“The advanced technologies of very light jets, and the entrepreneurial spirit that is being unfolded now in companies offering a new form of transportation with VLJs, soon will provide the nation with a new dimension in air travel at a reasonable price,” Olcott concluded.
NASA’s director of advanced planning, Dr. Bruce Holmes, referred to VLJ development as a “revolution” comparable to that of the motor car. He described a recent trip to Wilmar, Minnesota, which – he estimated – would have taken three or four days using scheduled airlines, in addition to considerable driving. Instead, a new air taxi service, flying Cirrus aircraft on demand, converted “15 or 16 hours of driving into a little more than three hours’ flying,” at a cost less than he would have paid for airline tickets, rental cars and – although not mentioned – overnight accommodation.
“This is a quality of life game-changer,” he enthused.
The forum was sponsored by RTI International, a non-profit research organization with offices in Virginia, South Carolina and Florida. RTI currently is studying ways to increase both the safety and capacity of the National Airspace System. Its work includes modeling on-demand air taxi capabilities and options.
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