US air taxi operator Linear Air has secured $1.3 million to help fund the company's expansion programme. "This new financing was pivotal for us to maintain market leadership during the current economic environment," says Linear president William Herp. Linear Air plans to launch an aircraft management programme targeted initially at very light jet owners based in the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions of the USA. A national programme may be offered at a later date.

The company operates four Eclipse 500s - leased from their owners - and three Cessna Caravan single-engine turboprops. "With its low direct operating costs, the Eclipse is an ideal aircraft for the air taxi market," Herp says. He concedes however, that the troubles at Eclipse are hampering the Linear Air service. The key issue, he says is the lack of Eclipse 500 maintenance and spare parts availability "which is making it difficult to keep our aircraft flying". Herp adds: "There were in two weeks in August when all of our aircraft were broken."

Linear Air Eclipse 500
 © Linear Air

Herp is confident that the problems with Eclipse will be resolved and Linear Air will eventually provide a high-utilisation air taxi model with an expanded fleet. "We hope to have eight managed aircraft in our operation by March 2009 and will continue to build the leased fleet. "There are around 260 Eclipse 500 in service and we are one of the few operators that can generate money for these owners."

Source: Flight International