Get ready for a revolution in air travel
Sitting next to a guy last week as I flew back from California, I struck up a conversation with him and ended up talking about jet travel, small seats (and the increasing size of our aging posteriors) and I mentioned microjets. He perked up and we talked about something I’ve been aware of for some time: we’re less than two years away from the beginnings of a revolution in jet air travel.
Over the next few years, a number of companies (list at bottom of page) will be shipping relatively inexpensive (~$1M-$2.5M) small 4-6 seat jets that can utilize approximately 3,400 small airports (out of over 5,000) that exist in the U.S.!
Imagine being able to sign up on the internet, tell the system where you want to go, and have a small jet pick you up at one of these small airports and drop you at another one close to your destination. No more long lines, parking hassles, or groping by some giddy TSA employee.
The promise is there but there’s more work to do.
NASA is working on a Small Aircraft Transportation System that will be required to keep track of all these small planes, make sure they can land without running in to one another, and to minimize interference with airline or regional craft.
By the way, it’s not just microjet air travel that is on the increase. HoneywellÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Avionics division has forecasted quite an increase in business aircraft — which does not include the forecast for microjets. Still, microjet manufacturer CEO’s like Rick Adam’s of Adam Aircraft or pilots like Forbes’ publisher Rich Karlgaard are very bullish on this concept as are many others.
All of that is pretty exciting, isn’t it? But it gets better. Our good friends at Honda are taking to the skies too which means that global competition will accelerate in this category just like the automotive industry. Curious note about Honda’s involvement too: in an article I read recently about Honda’s focus on *just* the jet engine, the writer was wondering why then did Honda build a prototype airframe for its recent testing of this engine? They could’ve easily just used any current airframe and this writer’s conjecture was that Honda was going to get in the microjet game…with an entire microjet aircraft.
You and I will be the beneficiaries of this trend over the next 5-7 years unless, of course, you’re employed by one of the major airlines. A lot of infrastructure work needs to happen (e.g., rental cars at these small airports) and air taxi services need to build a sustainable business model, but without even market analysis data in front of me my gut tells me that this will be an explosive opportunity if it’s priced reasonably and the air taxi services can be profitable.
I, for one, can’t wait until I can grab a jet at the small airport four minutes from my house and have it drop me virtually anywhere I care to go. It’s not just infrastructure that needs to be considered, however, since a lavatory or “potty seat” is optional on many of these microjets…and it’s unlikely that I (or anyone else for that matter) will be willing to fly for even an hour or two and have to hold it.