Operator plans to have 50-plus air taxis flying between 10-15 locations by year-end

US air-taxi start-up DayJet plans to begin operations in the second or third week of June, by which time it expects to have between eight and 12 three-passenger Eclipse 500 very light jets and up to 60 pilots. The company's online reservation system is planned to be fully operational by mid-May, with per-seat, on-demand service between five cities in Florida initially limited to pre-qualified programme members.

DayJet has "over 600 members, with another 1,500 going through qualification", says chief executive Ed Iacobucci. This potential customer base comprises companies buying $250-a-year memberships for individuals, with a "soft" commitment that each will fly on average once a quarter, he says.


Delray Beach, Florida-based DayJet has taken delivery of its first three aircraft, and expects to begin training in them once Eclipse certificates a bolt-on mechanical attitude director indicator (ADI) - an interim addition to the VLJ's glass cockpit to meet the Part 135 requirement for a third, independent display of attitude information.

After failing to meet that requirement with a software update to the original Avidyne integrated flightdeck displays - which are being replaced - "they put the ADI for the third AHRS [attitude and heading reference system] on the dash," says Iacobucci. A DayJet aircraft, P2, has been used for certification flight testing of the fix.

Four more aircraft are in final assembly for delivery within the next month, he says, with another five following. Iacobucci says he needs a minimum of seven Eclipses, plus one spare, to begin service between the initial five DayPorts in Florida: Boca Raton, Gainesville, Lakeland, Pensacola and Tallahassee.

How quickly DayJet expands beyond these cities, and beyond Florida, will depend on demand. "The number of DayPorts and states is the knob we can turn to control the growth of the company," says Iacobucci. "How many people the initial customers bring on will affect the demand side." If demand is high, aircraft will be added to the initial network as they are delivered: if it is low, DayJet will expand its reach sooner.

On current projections, DayJet expects to have 30-plus aircraft and 175 pilots serving eight to 10 DayPorts in Florida and Georgia by the end of the third quarter and 50-plus aircraft, 250 pilots and 10-15 DayPorts in four south-eastern US states by year-end - its agreement with Eclipse covers the delivery of up to 65 aircraft this year.

DayJet is arranging a $100-150 million debt facility to augment $68 million in private equity raised in three financing rounds. The $50 million Series C round closed in March after what Iacobucci describes as a "prolonged, incredibly difficult period" of fund-raising that ultimately brought on board eight new institutional investors. "I am comfortable that as we demonstrate the system and need additional capital, they have it," he says.

Source: Flight International