DayJet, on the other hand, plans to sell single seats to frustrated air travelers who no longer fly on trips of 250 to 500 miles - they choose to drive instead. DayJet believes they can identify and market effectively to these travelers, serving "regional route sectors -- starting in Texas and the Southwest, eventually expanding to the New York area south to Florida, and then to the Pacific coast" (Sharkey, 2006). This air taxi service plans to use Eclipse 500 planes, and are awaiting delivery of the planes to begin service.
Neither of these operators has begun regular service because the planes seem to be coming off the assembly lines more slowly than anticipated. DayJet's delivery of Eclipse 500's has been slowed due to delays in production and certification. Therefore, no one knows how these air taxi services will ultimately affect airport traffic and air travel. The public may embrace this new mode of travel with open arms, or it may not welcome it at all.
The Impact of VLJs
While it is impossible to predict the ultimate impact of VLJs on the aviation world, there are many speculations about how they will revolutionize air travel for business and pleasure.
While many experts believe VLJs could transform air travel, others are not so sure. One aviation writer quotes aviation expert Richard Aboulafia, "He predicts deliveries of 1,265 VLJs over the next 10 years, 17% of the 7,417 new aircraft delivered. Aboulafia says VLJs will account for less than 2% of the $106.7 billion in total value of aircraft delivered over the period" (Croft, 2006, pg. 33). Since the air taxi services and other models for utilizing these jets have not yet been implemented, it is difficult to gauge how the public will react to these jets. However, many experts believe they could be the answer to America's growing problem with overcrowding at the nation's busiest airports.
One aviation author notes that the Joint Planning & Development Office (JPDO) predicts increases in travel demands by 2025. He notes, "JPDO projects a range of outcomes by year 2025 that can include increases in demand to a level of up to 3X times the number of operations in today's current National Airspace System (NAS)" (Robinson, 2006). This means the system would be drastically overloaded, and the probability of accidents and other emergencies would certainly rise. This also means that some kind of alternative must be developed to help alleviate overcrowding at major airports. VLJs, if they utilize smaller, rural airports near metropolitan centers, could help alleviate the overcrowding at major airports. However, there are worries that utilizing even these rural airports could have lasting affects on the overall NAS.
One area of concern is air traffic control (ATC). Author Robinson continues, "FAA and other air traffic management experts are also concerned about the possible impact of VLJs on the ATC system" (Robinson, 2006). Robinson and others concede that with the current system, the addition of several thousand VLJs in service at any given time could throw the current ATC system into "gridlock." However, he maintains that the FAA has known about this eventual overcrowding of the ATC system for years, and needs to revamp the system into something more modern that can grow as air transportation grows. He believes this will occur in the mid-21st century, and that the system will be able to handle additional VLJs in the meantime, as long as the numbers do not rise dramatically.
However, many argue that the worry over congestion at major airports simply does not hold water. Author Robinson believes that the very service VLJs will provide preclude it from utilizing large metropolitan airports. He notes, "The VLJ business model is based on providing convenient, personal point-to-point services through non-congested airports. VLJ passengers will be time sensitive and convenience-minded, and they will use VLJs precisely to avoid the hassles associated with large hubs" (Robinson, 2006). In addition, the planes' design allows them to utilize very short runways (as short at 3,000 feet), which also allows them access to many more small airports. They are designed to stay away from large airports, and increase the usage of underused airports away from the big metropolitan areas, and so, it seems worries about addition congestion are simply unfounded.
Robinson maintains that even if the aircraft do eventually immigrate to hub airports, they will be able to keep up with the "big guys" because of their advanced avionics and pilot training. Some worry they will clog the system because they are slower than other planes and the pilots are less experienced. However, rather than inhibiting traffic flow and mobility, they will be able to blend seamlessly into the traffic flow without disruption or delays.
In conclusion, the introduction of VLJs into the nation's transportation system is certainly going to change the way many people travel. They may appeal to business travelers at first, who often must make last-minute travel decisions and need speedy and efficient options for their travel. However, once the point-to-point system becomes known, it seems that it would appeal to just about any traveler who is tired of the congestion and time delays associated with commercial airline travel. More travelers may see the expense of an air taxi as a necessity rather than a luxury, because of the time and stress saved by this method of travel. It remains to be seen how the VLJ market will affect travel and transportation, but it seems poised to truly change the face of the way the world gets around in the skies.
Author not available. (2006). Smaller, faster, cheaper new jets may transform flying. Retrieved from the USAToday.com Web site: http://www.usatoday.com/travel/news/2006-01-19-little-jets_x.htm19 April 2007.
Croft, J. (2006). Very light jets: Boom or blip? Retrieved from the AIAA.org Web site: http://www.aiaa.org/aerospace/images/articleimages/pdf/AA_May06_CRO.pdf19 April 2007. 32-36.
Editors. (2007). NBAA training guidelines for single pilot operations of Very Light Jets and technically advanced aircraft. Retrieved from the NBAA.org Web site: http://web.nbaa.org/public/ops/safety/vlj/19 April 2007.
Robinson, J.L. (2006). Predicted air traffic control impact from VLJ's. Retrived from the Casa.aero Web site: http://www.casa.aero/adminUploads/TheVeryLightJet_ATCA.pdf19 April 2007.
Sharkey, J. (2006). Big battle in small-jet skies. Retrieved from the New York Times.com Web site:…