Recently launched DayJet founder Ed Iacobucci was recently interviewed by Jon Udell. Widely known in IT circles as the co-founder of Citrix, Iacobucci left in 2000 to pursue his interest in aviation. In 2002 he co-founded DayJet, a company whose mission is to deliver on-demand, per-seat jet travel service. In this interview, Ed describes how he worked through a false start, realized that on-demand air travel would require a platform, decided that Eclipse Aviation’s line of precision-engineered, mass-producable, and affordable jets would be the platform’s equivalent to the personal computer, and then led the teams that conceived and created its network operating system and software service infrastructure. Click here to hear the interview.
Archive for October, 2007
It’s really happened - At long last we can stop talking and thinking about the “pending revolution” in air travel - The revolution has come - The future is now. DayJet has officially launched. And Very Light Jet, fly-on-demand air-taxi service is now an everyday reality for Florida fliers in the Boca Raton, Gainesville, Lakeland, Pensacola and Tallahassee markets.
Of equal importance to business travelers outside those regions, DayJet CEO Ed Iacobucci used the October 4 “grand opening” of service to the five initial Florida Dayports to reiterate his and DayJet’s commitment to expand service to at least Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and the rest of Florida within two years. “Starting today, business travelers in the Southeast can have all the power in the travel relationship,” Iacobucci told interviewers. “They can decide how much their time is worth and dictate a travel itinerary that increases their productivity and enhances their quality of life.”
The process of putting “all the power” in travelers’ hands has taken a mere eye blink — a little over a decade — in terms of the time usually required to develop, prove and launch an entirely new category of aircraft and a matching air-transport operating model.
So as we celebrate DayJet’s placing its milestone in the skyline of aviation progress, it might be interesting to take a brief look at how we got from Point A — Dr. Sam Williams development of the 85-pound FJX-2 turbofan engine — to points Boca Raton, Gainesville, Lakeland, Pensacola and beyond.
In 1996 Williams, whose company Williams International had made its bones developing mini-jet engines for the Defense Department’s Tomahawk missile and the light-jet prime movers used in Cessna’s CitationJet, built the prototype FJX-2 under a NASA contract that allowed him to also market the engine and its derivatives for civilian use. About two years into his evangelizing the gospel of compact fuel-efficient, low-noise, high-thrust-to-weight-ratio jet engines , Williams made his first, most important, convert, Vern Rayburn, a high-tech troubleshooter obsessed with finding a better, more efficient way for executives like himself to get to and from all the off-the-major-airline-grid communities on their travel schedules.
Envisioning a fleet of Williams-powered microjets (as VLJs were then called) as the realization of his dream, Rayburn incorporated Eclipse Aviation in 1998 and announced plans to built a twin-engined, three or four passenger, dual-pilot jet that would boast a price sticker 50 percent below that of an entry-level business jet, make its way through the skies for about a dollar a mile, and contain state-of-the-art navigation and communications systems equal to those on airline jumbo jets. (Note: The fact that the Eclipse 500 was eventually powered by Pratt & Whitney rather than Williams engines in no way detracts from Sam Williams heroic status and importance in this history.)
Enter Ed Iacobucci, another high-tech-industry frequent flier who’d grown weary of the major airline and metropolitan airport shuffle. In 2000, Ed and his wife Nancy took their first shot at solving that problem by founding Wingfoot Services LLC, a traditional on-demand charter company. By 2001, they realized that charter service using conventional aircraft was an answer, but not a particularly good or highly profitable one.
Deciding that Vern Rayburn’s low-cost, high-efficiency Eclipse 500 was a better solution, they incorporated DayJet in 2002, got on the Eclipse 500 waiting list in position number one, and began five years of developing, refining and virtual-world testing DayJet’s proprietary Astro (Advanced System Technology for Real-Time Operations) operations system, a paperless software suite that automatically deploys aircraft and crews based on reservation system, aircraft instrumentation, personnel, weather and maintenance data.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Except that it isn’t really history, which implies something that’s past. The real rest of the story is about the present as DayJet flies passengers across Florida unshackled by fixed schedules, inflexible itineraries, and mile-long runways.
The real rest of the story is even more about a future in which DayJet and other fly-on-demand operators grab onto the torch lit by Sam Williams, Vern Rayburn and Ed Iacobucci and carry it out of the Southeast to the rest of America and the world.