DayJet and Eclipse are joined at the hip. Ed Iacobucci needs the very light jet’s low operating costs to make his per-seat, on-demand charter service viable, and Vern Raburn needs DayJet’s success to drive air-taxi sales and production rates for the Eclipse 500.

DayJet alone has 239 Eclipses on order, plus 70 on option, and that is just to cover demand projected within the first 24 months of operation. Those aircraft are planned to be deployed within the first service region, now confirmed as the south-eastern USA, beginning in mid-November.

Dayjet Eclipse W445
DayJet has 300 Eclipses on order and it seems to deploy them in south east USA from November

DayJet president and chief executive Iacobucci plans to start slowly, with around 10 aircraft flying between five locations – called DayPorts – all within his home state of Florida. But the plan is to double in size every quarter, until the entire seven-state south-eastern USA is covered.

“As a launch region, it’s not necessarily the best from an economic viewpoint, but it’s close to home, so we can observe the system as it rolls out and change operating procedures quickly,” says Iacobucci. “And it’s mostly sea level, which gives us a better operating environment.”

The three-passenger jets will be flown five days a week by two-person crews working in two daily shifts. Customers will select origin and destination airports and specify departure and arrival “windows” – the wider they are the lower the fare – and DayJet’s scheduling system will optimise aircraft routeing in real time to aggregate demand.

Flight plans will change constantly, and an updated release package will be uplinked to each aircraft as it comes within range of the DayPort, located within an established fixed-base operation. Instead of filling out flight logs, and to speed up the turnaround, pilots will use small wireless devices in the cockpit to receive and accept data generated electronically.

DayJet is working with the US Federal Aviation Administration to have GPS-based “LPV” precision approaches, using Eclipse’s WAAS-capable navigation system, at most DayPorts “at launch or shortly after”, says Iacobucci. Automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast will follow next year, he says, “to increase the density of operations where needed”.

One refinement to DayJet’s business plan is the creation of DayBases, locations where employees will live and to which aircraft will return twice daily, at midday to change crews and at night for maintenance.

“Back-end maintenance will be like a scheduled airline, while the front end will be like on-demand charter,” Iacobucci says. “A lot of focus for the first year will be on refining the maintenance programme – what checks to do and when.” DayJet has chosen a “heavy duty” third-party maintenance system already used by airlines, he says.

Of the five initial DayPorts, two will also be DayBases. By the end of 2007, DayJet plans to have about 20 DayPorts in four south-eastern states, around eight of which will also be DayBases, each home to a minimum of six aircraft. When fully deployed, there will likely be 40-50 DayPorts across the region, Iacobucci says.

DayPorts will be at general aviation airports serving small- and medium-sized communities with little or no scheduled service. DayBases will be selected for the quality of life they offer, and are key to DayJet’s plans to cultivate an esprit de corps among employees. Iacobucci, who like Raburn comes from the software industry, says: “I have learned from high-growth companies that you have one chance to establish an employee culture at the beginning. It can’t be retrofitted.”

Source: Flight International