More on Very Light Jets: Hardware, Software, and Networks

Jon Udell has an interesting post and podcast with Ed Iacobucci of DayJet, an air taxi startup.  Iacobucci, it turns out, is the founder of Citrix and led the OS/2 team at IBM.  DayJet is what you fantasize about during travel delays; a point-to-point small jet service that lets you skip the big hubs and go directly from your local general aviation field to the general aviation field closest to your actual destination.  Well, what I fantasize about during travel delays.

Udell’s post makes much of the complexity of the operations research routing problem that DayJet has to solve in order to be successful, but a subsequent post touches on the hardware issue.  That is, DayJet needs a particular hardware “platform” — in this case, a small inexpensive jet — in addition to the software.  The arrival of Very Light Jets (VLJs) such as the Eclipse 500 that DayJet is using is supposed to usher in this new age.

The analogies with personal computers and the rise of networks and the Internet are not lost on either Udell or Iacobucci.  In fact, they talk about passengers as packets, which is a little disconcerting.

The private jet market has now taken off, if you’ll pardon the pun, outside of the US, with strong growth for fractional ownership players such as NetJets in Europe and dramatically increased orders from Asia. Honeywell [.ppt] projects 1,000 new jet deliveries in 2007, and over 1,300 in 2008, both records.  Apparently, the biggest growth is forecast for the two extremes of the market; for the largest private jets, especially with inter-continental range, and for the smallest jets, including VLJs.

But, note this tidbit from Joe Sharkey in the New York Times:

In a recent interview, Mr. Santulli of NetJets marveled at the vast wealth driving this growth. He also said that not all of the big long-range luxury jets, like Gulfstreams, are ferrying teams of executives across the seas.

“Take a wild guess. What do you think the most common city pair for our Gulfstream fleet is?” he asked.

“New York to L.A.?” I replied.

“Not even close. It’s New York to Washington, D.C.,” he said.