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JetSuite becomes launch customer for Zunum hybrid aircraft

By Kathryn B. Creedy

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In what will likely be a further disruption of the aviation industry, JetSuite has committed to the hybrid-to-electric Zunum Aero 12-seat aircraft with a potential 100-aircraft order becoming the innovative aircraft’s launch customer.

The order also introduces the first electric passenger-carrying platform in the industry.

The schedule for delivery is 2022 with testing on schedule for 2019. It is an ambitious schedule for a new technology aircraft, but Zunum is purposely relying on already proven technology in power electronics, electric motors, propulsors and aircraft by leveraging engineer expertise in these fields. The promise is obvious when considering Zunum is backed by JetBlue Technology Ventures and Boeing Horizon X.

JetSuite is already known for disruption, rolling out a model that makes business aviation more accessible and expands the market. The acquisition now brings airliner economics into business aviation which promises to open up the segment even more.

“At JetSuite and JetSuiteX, we appreciate the boldness required to change the status quo, and we see it in spades at Zunum,” said JetSuite CEO Alex Wilcox. “We share Zunum’s vision for hybrid-to-electric aviation. With this partnership, we expect to bring ever more efficient and environmentally friendly aviation solutions to our private and semi-private jet customers.”

The move also expands Zunum’s market beyond its original regional airline target. Wilcox recently told BlueSky News the under-500-mile market has been completely abandoned by traditional airlines and that is what provided the opportunity for a successful JetSuite and other new business models. Indeed, the biggest opportunity in the US, and perhaps, elsewhere, is serving the intra-regional market, now being addressed by the likes of Surf Air and Wheels Up in the business aviation market and Silver Airways and others in the regional field.

Zunum also noted efficient travel options are limited saying there are low numbers of regional flights, high costs and cumbersome door-to-door travel times, making it a perfect fit for the short-haul private and semi-private travel offered by both JetSuite and JetSuiteX. Those factors have led to the growth in business aviation. The hassle factor associated with airline service prompted the abandonment of airlines with over 30 million trips annually not taken, according to the US Travel Association.

The Zunum Aero aircraft are optimized for distances up to 1,000 miles a maximum cruise speed of 340 mph, and with a low runway requirement of 2,200 feet for takeoff. Zunum said it is well-positioned to refresh the roughly $1 trillion in aircraft currently now serving regional routes.

It is also the first introduction of a hybrid electric aircraft into passenger service.

The company, which ultimately plans a family of aircraft, is targeting noise and emissions reduction of 80%, promising to expand the operational footprint over residential communities. That would further disrupt the aviation paradigm by reducing door-to-door travel times and costs and taking advantage thousands of more airports than now used by airlines. Indeed, that is JetSuite’s sweet spot - enabling convenience and efficiency in regional aviation.


See also: Zunum Aero: Promise for commercial but vast implications for business aviation

Kathryn B. Creedy is a veteran aviation journalist and author who has covered almost every facet of commercial and business aviation.

She began her aviation work focusing on regional airlines in the immediate post-deregulation period. She founded Commuter/Regional Airline News in 1982 building it to become the bible of the industry. Kathryn has written for Forbes Online and is the author of Time Flies - The History of SkyWest Airlines in which she chronicled the post-deregulation history of the US regional airline industry.

Kathryn’s byline has been seen in all of the top aviation publications. Her talents migrated to the web, when she returned to the editorship of C/R News - then called Regional Aviation News - in 2005 and took over editorial management of In addition, she founded the VLJ Report, covering the emerging very light jets in the business aviation market.

Kathryn’s work has covered the abandonment of over 400 communities driven by changes in the US airline industry and she sees tremendous opportunities to fill the void in intra-state and intra-regional air transport. She has not seen this much activity in this segment of regional transportation since the 1980s.

© BlueSky Business Aviation News | 21st May 2018 | Issue #464

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