Watching the Eclipse - The Air Taxi Market
This the fourth in a series of topics that will be revisited now that the Eclipse is certified and deliveries are about to commence.
When the VLJ's were first conceived several years ago and 50 cent per mile operating costs were projected, the air taxi idea caught on and a handful of operators ordered hundreds of airplanes.
With costs now widely understood to be three dollars per mile, the would be taxi companies still cling to the belief they have a viable business model for the Eclipse Air Taxi. Others doubt the vision of hundreds and hundreds of Eclipse aircraft blanketing the country providing low cost transportation.
For both sides of this argument, click on the following link which was provided courtesy of Adam Webster's web site:
Apart from the commercial viability, another wrinkle has surfaced with the publication of the FAA Type Data Sheet. Weight and balance limitations will be a factor in flying John Q Public.
The Eclipse has an extremely narrow range for CG travel that will severely limit the utility for an air taxi operation.
Imagine Happy Jet parked at an FBO waiting for passengers, a Chevy Suburban pulls up and out steps three 220 lb guys, their briefcases and overnight bags. The flight crew will take one look and realize they are outside the forward CG limits!
Far fetched? Maybe, maybe not.
It is more far fetched to envision a Volvo pulling up with three 170 lb guys carrying a shaving kit in one hand and a clean pair of skivvies in their other hand.
Scheduling will have to ask the tough questions when booking charters: "Yes Mr. Fatcat, and how much does Mrs. Fatcat weigh?"