EXCLUSIVE: Bruce Holmes on the end of DayJet and the future of commercial aviation

If you’ve heard of DayJet Corporation, the JPDO, NASA’s Langley Research Center, or the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, then you know a little something about the career trajectory of Bruce Holmes. Over a 30-year period, Holmes went from flight instructor and test pilot, to aeronautical engineer, to a Chief Strategist role at Langley, to advocate for the decentralization of passenger aviation in the United States. After a stint at the JPDO in the office’s early days, he joined Ed Iacobucci at DayJet Corporation — the world’s first digitally-managed, per-seat on-demand air taxi service.

In this wide-ranging interview — one of his first since DayJet Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection — Holmes talks to Fly NextGen about DayJet’s final months, the future of per-seat on-demand, and what’s needed to make NextGen a reality.

Some quotes:

On DayJet’s potential: “We were convinced that we could produce efficiency gains at least in the range of 15 percent, and quite a bit more than that, in many cases.”

On the Eclipse 500: “The airplane [..] wasn’t quite ready for intensive utilization.  We needed the ability to create a fleet dispatch reliability of 90%; this was not possible at the early stage of maturity of the airplane, meaning we depended on having many more aircraft in the fleet than those required for revenue service.”

Hurdles for NextGen: “The hard part in front of us is that industry has some major decisions they would make but cannot because of the absence of policy on the part of government. The simple truth is that the legacy carriers are not in a position financially to adopt new technology. They just can’t.”

No national vision? “Right now, there is a sort of brain block between the federal sector and the state and municipal level in terms of public policy for funding infrastructure at small airports for this fairly new purpose of public transportation to and from smaller airports. [..] We don’t have a national air transportation policy.”

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