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Virgin Galactic Space Travel

One small step for a spacecraft, but, a giant leap for space travel

July is a big month for private space travel. Yesterday, Sir Richard Branson traveled into space, to “evaluate the customer spaceflight experience” aboard Virgin Galactic‘s VSS Unity. In nine days, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will travel into space aboard his commercial space travel company’s, Blue Origin, first flight.

Both flights offer slightly different experiences, with one being a spaceplane and the other a pure rocket. They are similar in that they herald in a new era of space travel where private citizens can be space tourists, or as the companies market the trip, astronauts. Historically, the coveted astronaut title and experience has been exclusive to government entities (cosmonauts – Russia, taikonauts – China). Which is why, although Virgin’s VSS Unity and Blue Origin’s New Shepard may be simply seen as incremental spacecraft developments, they represent a larger shift in our planet’s spacefaring capabilities.

The Experience

Virgin Galactic’s maiden flight involved a ‘mothership,’ named VMS Eve, conventionally taking off from Spaceport America in New Mexico, with VSS Unity mated beneath. Just below 50,000 feet VMS Eve released VSS Unity which ignited its hybrid rocket engine for 60 seconds, accelerating to Mach 3.1 in order to reach its maximum altitude, or apogee, of 86 kilometres (nominally the company aims for 90 kilometres).

Stages of flight Infographic 2 .jpg
Virgin Galactic flight profile

While transitioning through apogee, the vessel’s six passengers may unstrap and experience micro gravity for a few minutes before settling in for a unique deceleration involving folding wings, and a human-guided descent and landing back at Spaceport America about thirty minutes after take off.

VC01_84.jpg
Virgin Galactic’s carrier aircraft VMS Eve and VSS Unity

Blue Origin’s trip is a vastly different experience. New Shepard is a fully autonomous rocket (i.e. no pilots), launching vertically from Blue Origin’s site in Texas like a conventional spaceflight for a 150-second rocket burn. When the fuel is expended the motor and fuel stage separate from the crew capsule, which continues to an apogee of just over 100 kilometres. Up to six passengers enjoy lie-flat seating with an almost panoramic view during their brief ten-minute journey. On descent, a parachute system brings the capsule back to land.

Blue Origin’s Mission NS-15 lifts off from Launch Site One in West Texas

Spaceflight

The two companies have both gone to lengths to validate that their trip is legitimately “spaceflight,” rather than simply high altitude. Blue Origin defines this as the internationally recognised Kármán line, 100 kilometres above Earth’s mean sea level. Virgin Galactic, however, use NASA’s and the US Air Force’s 80 kilometres above sea level as the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space. Regardless, at either vessel’s apogee, there are no aerodynamic forces, and passengers and pilots alike are for all intents and purposes in space.

Whether a space tourist has earned the title of ‘astronaut’ is a matter of opinion. Technically, they have met an altitude criteria, but culturally, historically, and from a competency perspective a space tourist is not a professional astronaut. A space tourist will, however, need to have reasonable wealth to travel aboard either company’s offering. A ticket aboard Virgin Galactic’s flagship costs USD250,000, and Blue Origin’s experience is similarly priced, although not known exactly. As both systems mature costs may reduce.

What about Elon?

As an encore to July, September will see the launch of SpaceX’s Inspiration4, a proven Crew Dragon vehicle, for the world’s first all-civilian space ‘mission.’ Although SpaceX’s founder, Elon Musk, won’t be aboard – the experience has been paid for by Jared Isaacman, a successful entrepreneur and founder of Draken International, who has assembled a crew of three others, their backgrounds and ambitions reflecting the “mission pillars” of Hope, Generosity, and Prosperity (along with his of Leadership).

At a soon-to-be announced launch date (~September), Inspiration4 will launch into low earth orbit on a Falcon 9 rocket, from NASA’s historic launchpad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. Over three days the vessel will remain in orbit, with no specific mission but tourism.

The cost of the entire mission, going by SpaceX’s public list price, is upwards of USD62m – although the details have been kept private. All crew members will undergo reasonably extensive commercial astronaut training through SpaceX, including orbital mechanics, operating in microgravity and zero gravity environments, stress testing, emergency preparedness training, mission simulations, and learning about the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft systems.

Recruit your own 'crew' for the private Inspiration4 space mission with  this new fundraising campaign | Space
Rendering of Inspiration4, with a crew member peering out of the customised cupola in place of the standard docking port.
Airly acquires EmptyJets

Airly acquires EmptyJets

Airly, Australia’s fastest growing private aviation company, announces that it has entered into an agreement to acquire EmptyJets, a private jet empty leg booking platform.

Airly acquires EmptyJets

Founded in 2003, EmptyJets was the first company in the country to provide members with a unique opportunity to fly on a private jet at a fraction of the cost. EmptyJets’ leading position in the empty leg space will be complimented by Airly’s membership success and product simplicity.

Luke Hampshire, CEO of Airly.com says: “EmptyJets was the first in the country to challenge accessibility and affordability in the private aviation industry. We have always been inspired by them and perhaps considered ourselves healthy competitors a few years ago. But as we transitioned into innovative membership products we felt the need to feed the empty capacity being generated by us into a reputable independent platform. We cannot wait to add our touches to the EmptyJets product and continue its success into the future.”

What does that mean for EmptyJets members? EmptyJets will continue to operate as its own entity. We are planning technology improvements as will as simplifying how members consume our product including the membership structure.

Will anything change at Airly? Over the next few months we will transfer the empty leg facets of the business over to EmptyJets. Airly will then focus on premium private jet charter solutions along with its SHARED and ACCESS Programs.

More importantly, members will gain access to exclusive Airly generated empty legs that cannot be found on any other platform. Airly’s operations team are also engaging with every possible operator in the country to ensure we can build a reputable supply of empty legs to cover every budget.

Lee Teirney, Airly’s VP of Membership will assume the General Manager role of EmptyJets and lead it into an exciting phase of rejuvenation.

The former team of EmptyJets have showed an enormous appreciation of their members’ loyalty and cannot wait to see what lies ahead.

We look forward to bringing a touch of Airly to the EmptyJets brand, but most importantly provide the best possible value to the EmptyJets membership.

Winter in the Whitsundays

Australia’s Whitsunday Islands, a collection of 74 tropical islands off the coast of Queensland, is less well known and less travelled than the Caribbean, but arguably more natural and unspoiled.

Whitsundays is the perfect Winter destination.

Iconic with its crystalline Whitehaven Beach, turquoise water, Heart Reef, calm seas, and hilly archipelago, the winter dry season offers respite from the cold south-east with an average daily temperature of 24 degrees Celsius, and clear skies.

Throughout the islands, visitors are spoiled for choice in terms of activities and options. These include self-directed sailing around the chains, guided sailing tours and island transfers, island hopping via seaplane, or simply relaxing the premium accommodation and cuisine available at the luxury and boutique resorts.

Getting there

Hamilton Island is the largest and most central of the islands, and the most convenient way to enter the Whitsunday Islands by air. The island’s airport, known as Great Barrier Reef Airport, handles regular scheduled flights by major domestic airlines from major eastern cities, and is a full service airport capable of all manner of private and business aircraft.

Hamilton Island Airport
Hamilton Island Airport

Alternatively, Whitsunday Coast Airport (also referred to as Proserpine Airport) is a thirty minute drive from the town of Airlie Beach, the mainland gateway to the Whitsundays and often likened to a tropical version of Queenstown, New Zealand. Again, Proserpine Airport is a major domestic airport, handling a range of scheduled services and suitable for private and business jet aircraft.

What to do

From arrival by air, visitors are spoiled for choice in terms of how to enjoy the islands. Options include self-directed sailing around the chains, guided sailing tours and island transfers, island hopping via seaplane, or simply relaxing the premium accommodation and cuisine available at the luxury and boutique resorts.

Where to stay

Qualia and Elysian Retreat are two of the finest resorts in the islands.

Opened in 2007, Qualia, on the northernmost part of Hamilton Island, has won numerous awards and accolades for its luxurious service and exquisite cuisine. The name means “a collection of deeper sensory experiences” and the private resorts strives to blend nature and luxury in a seamless, memorable way. As one would expect, guests have a range of options available to them during their stay – from spa treatments, reef exploring, sightseeing, island hikes, or simply enjoying the resort.

Qualia Resort Hamilton Island
Qualia Resort Hamilton Island

The resort hosts its own helipad, allowing direct helicopter transfers from either Hamilton Island’s airport or Proserpine. Alternatively, guests can sail to Qualia, or take swift VIP road transfers from Hamilton Island airport.

Elysian Retreat is the most secluded island retreat in the Whitsundays, tucked away on Long Island, home of the Molle Island National Park. Elysian. An eco retreat and the first solar powered resort on the Great Barrier Reef, Elysian is positioned on a private cove with a rocky beach, surrounded by rainforest, with no other habitats on the island. The resort caters to only a handful of guests at any time, and offers a locally sourced custom menu, personalised organic spa treatments, and local guided adventures or the facilities to simply enjoy the island tranquility.

Elysian Retreat Whitsundays
Elysian Retreat

Getting to Elysian is via scenic helicopter transfer from Proserpine, Hamilton Island, or Airlie Beach.

Another quintessential Whitsundays resort is Hayman Island, the most northerly of the Whitsunday Islands, and a private island famous for its luxury resort – now named the InterContinental Hayman Island Resort. Although the island’s first resort was opened in the 1950s, the resort was significantly renovated and upgraded in 2011. These improvements gave Hayman Island a botanical garden as well as private villas to complement the main resort and premium facilities.

InterContinental Hayman Island Resort
InterContinental Hayman Island Resort

Getting to and from the island is again part of the Whitsundays experience, with the resort offering private charter helicopter, seaplane, or aboard a luxury powered yacht.

Coming Up

Late winter hosts the Hamilton Island Race Week, one of Australia’s largest offshore regattas featuring a range of racing, super, and sports yachts competing on the tropical waters. While the Whitsundays are wonderful to visit any time of year, for sporting excitement and an opportunity to see high performance race crews and their nautical equipment competing, Race Week is one of the best opportunities worldwide.

Barrier Reef Airways’ Short Sandringham flying boat at Hayman Island, 1951.

How to book

Airly simplifies private jet charter via transparent pricing and innovative products to make flying private more accessible.

Reach out to the Airly Member Care team here or via WhatsApp for your next trip and experience the difference for yourself.

The price of a private jet to the Whitsundays does vary depending on your departure point and how long you’ll stay.

To book a private jet from Brisbane to Hamilton Island budget $16,000-$30,000, $25,000-$30,000 from Sydney and $35,000-$45,000 from Melbourne.

private jet brokers

Private jet brokers, can you trust them?

Private jet brokers don’t own aircraft and simply sit in between you and the private jet operator. 

It’s no secret that there’s been a considerable uptick in private jet charter in Australia.  Customers new and existing are making the most of increased availability of jets.

For new customers, it can be quite exciting to book your first private jet charter.  The feeling of finally ‘making it’, or giving in to the utility and benefits of flying private. 

While some private jet brokers have closed down during the pandemic, others are making the most of this uptick. However they can get a little greedy when it comes to pricing your trip.  Let us explain.

How do private jet brokers price a charter?

When you provide your itinerary to the broker, they’ll try to get some further information from you such as preferred cabin size, budget and any other requirements outside of the normal to help make a decision on what operator to approach.

Private Jet Broker Australia

Operators will provide the broker with a price to facilitate your trip.  The broker will then add a margin (5-20%) and present you with some options.

All of the process so far is very common, ethical and standard practice.  

But what if you only fly one way, or the jet returns empty back to its home base during your stay at the destination?  Empty capacity is then generated, in which brokers will then attempt to sell the newly created ‘empty leg’.  This is when some brokers get a little greedy.

Should the broker sell the empty leg, they’ll keep all that revenue for themselves.  There’s a fair chance you’ll have no idea about it.  So what’s the problem with that?

You are paying full price for that empty leg to be created and sold.  The broker has added their fee to your price (their profit), and are now making thousands of dollars on top of that thanks to you.  We call it the double dip.  So what can you do about it?

Negotiate a revenue share deal with brokers

In the name of fairness, you should ask your broker if any empty legs are attached to your flight.  If that answer is yes, ask for a share of that empty leg revenue.  There is no reason for the broker to not work out a deal to make everyone happy.

Working with your private jet broker

If they say no, it may be time to thank them for their efforts and find a more transparent company to work with.

How does Airly share empty leg revenue?

In the past few months we have credited or refunded tens of thousands of dollars back to our charter customers from the sale of empty legs, or combining their itinerary with another customer’s saving on empty positioning fees.

When pricing your flight, we will advise if empty flights are going to be marketed, and how much of a potential refund you will receive on the successful sale of said empty flight.  We refund or credit at least 80% of empty leg revenue back to you.

Here’s some recent examples.

On the 17th of April we refunded or credited a total of $9,100 to two separate customers by selling their attached empty legs on a one-way trip.

On the 2nd of May we were able to sell three empty legs attached to a one-way charter.  A total of $10,000 was credited to the customer’s next flight.

On the 8th of May we combined two itineraries onto the one jet saving both of our customers $4,000 each.

On the 11th of May we combined two itineraries onto the one jet saving both of our customers $3,000 each.

trust private jet brokers

In summary, a good private jet broker can help guide you through the confusing world that is private aviation.  But in order to find a good broker you need to keep them honest.

Wheels UP

Wheels UP – The making of an aviation powerhouse

“Wheels up” is a phrase used in aviation to describe the transition from take off landing gear down configuration, to airborne configuration with landing gear, or wheels, retracted. It’s a phrase that evokes progress, speed, and of being on a journey.

Thus, it’s fitting for a pioneer in business and private aviation to be named as such. Wheels Up was founded in 2013 by three New York-based founders. Their founding goal was, and still is, to reinvent private flying through a “revolutionary new business model that delivers the safest, most consistent, and highest -quality aviation solution.” This article explores what that means to members and travellers, the pioneering journey that Wheels Up continues to track, and the company’s leadership in shaping an industry.

“You can’t fail, you pivot.”

Kenny Dichter, Wheels Up Founder & CEO

Wheels Up is a leader in private aviation. And, the brand and legacy it forges only makes sense by looking at its founder, Mr. Kenny Dichter. A successful entrepreneur and businessman, Kenny Dichter made his first millions in 1998 through the sale of his college-founded Alphabet City Sports Records, a label focused on songs often heard in sports stadiums and arenas. In 2001, Dichter co-founded Marquis Jets, the world’s first fractional card private jet program. By 2007, the business was turning over USD700 million per year with 3,500 customers, selling private jet access in 25-hour allotments. That same year, Dichter predicted that Marquis Jets would grow into a billion-dollar business within three years.

In 2010, Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary company, NetJets, acquired Marquis Jet. Marquis Jets’ innovative, accessible, and flexible ‘jet card’ model bolstered NetJets’ fractional ownership business model. Within two years, NetJets proceeded to place the largest aircraft order in private history, for up to 275 Bombardier aircraft, valued at over USD17.6 billion.

“Rule Number One: Never lose money.

Rule Number Two: Never forget rule one.”

– Warren Buffett

Although the 2010 sales terms of NetJets’ acquisition of Marquis Jet weren’t disclosed, it’s probable that Dichter’s 2007 prediction was realised, with NetJets reporting significant sales increase that year. Today, both Marquis Jets and NetJets continue to operate, with the latter the clear private jet fractional ownership industry leader.

Growth

After selling Dichter took a ‘break,’ founding the highly regarded and cult-like Tequila Avión. Pernot Ricard, the premium liquor portfolio company, increased its ownership of the esteemed tequila brand to a majority holding over a few years.

Wheels Up on Twitter: "Who's excited for @entouragemovie? #WheelsUp # Entourage #EntourageTheMovie http://t.co/gAvX9KBsfd"
“I thought you were in that Avion Tequila deal?” – HBO’s Entourage

In 2013, Dichter along with two co-founders, returned to aviation entrepreneurship with the launch of Wheels Up. The co-founders simultaneously announced their management team along with a USD1.4 billion order for 105 Beechcraft King Air 350i turboprop aircraft. In disrupting and creating new markets, Wheels Up’s business model was premised on a membership / on-demand business model, servicing non-hub commercial services.

Since founding, Wheels Up has gone from strength to strength in under a decade. Within a year of launch the company had over 1,000 members and close to 40 aircraft (King Airs and Cessna Citation jets), and by 2019 the company had over 5,500 memberships (individual and corporate) and owned nearly 100 aircraft.

Importantly, Wheels Up continues to succeed through challenging the industry’s norms through Dichter’s entrepreneurial attitude, manifested in business model adjustments. Although founded on an entirely new premise of membership-based flying access, in 2018 Wheels Up announced a new flight sharing membership offering, Wheels Up Connect. The goal of Connect was to “democratize private flying” by further reducing the unit cost to access the benefits, efficiencies, and economics of business jet aviation. Despite Wheels Up closing 2020 with 10,995 active members and USD690 million in revenue at the end of 2020, they estimate that “90% of people who can afford to fly privately don’t,” or more than a million people in the US, and forecast their 2021 annual revenue to grow to USD912m

Create. Don’t Compete.

The last several years have seen Wheels Up manoeuvering to capitalise on this untapped blue ocean of private aviation travellers. In 2019, the same year that Wheels Up announced their goal of 16,000 active members by 2021, the company started a strategic acquisition spree to bolster their charter operations and membership management platform. Acquisitions included included the Travel Management Company (TMC Jets); Avianis, a B2B communication platform for operators and brokers; Gama Aviation Signature, the largest Part 135 charter operators in the USA; and Mountain Aviation, the largest Cessna Citation X fleet charter operator in the United States.

Blue Ocean Strategy vs Red Ocean Strategy
Blue Ocean Strategy vs Red Ocean Strategy , © Chan Jim & Renee Mauborgne

The underlying logic behind Wheels Up aggressive growth is simple – the company needs aircraft (supply) to meet the untapped private aviation demand. Dichter told Forbes earlier this year that the company will continue to serve the wholesale market and supply the growing demand for members. To fund this exponential trajectory, Dichter has executed what appears to be an astute two-stage plan.

The first stage saw Delta Private Jets, Delta Air Lines’ private aviation subsidiary, merge into Wheels Up and bringing Delta’s 70 aircraft into Wheels Up’s fold in 2020. This merger saw Delta Airlines take a majority stake in Wheels Up, and granted them a board seat.

The second stage of strategic funding is a shrewd twist on Dichter’s previously reported preference to pursue an initial public offering (IPO). In February, the company announced a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger with Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle Corporation. By merging with a SPAC, Wheels Up is expecting to achieve an “enterprise value of about USD2.1 billion,” and cash proceeds of USD790 million, without negotiating the traditional IPO process.

The winner is…

Having a successful, proven, serial entrepreneur in Kenny Dichter, who is clearly passionate about general and private aviation, and recognises its unrealised potential, is an incredible opportunity for the industry. Travellers benefits through new and more accessible means of transport, at improved value; while the aviation industry benefits from positive disruption, bringing about improvements and progress.

Wheels Up are an industry leader, and Kenny Dichter an incredible change agent.

Wheels Up’s Cessna Citation Excel / XLS
snow escapes by private jet

Airly & Luxury Escapes partner to provide the ultimate snow day-trip.

Airly and Luxury Escapes have taken their partnership to the next level.

Ever imaged spending just a day at the snow?

Waking up and going back to your own bed after a whole day of tearing up the slopes.

It may seem like a fantasy when you consider the near 6 hour drive from Bondi to Thredbo each way.

However the team at Airly and Luxury Escapes have partnered to provide the ULTIMATE snow day trip, which landed on their site recently.

Swap the dazzling city sights of Sydney for the soaring mountain peaks of Thredbo with the ultimate VIP fly-in, fly-out private jet ski experience – perfect for snow-lovers seeking a luxurious way to hit the slopes in style.

Perisher

Departing Sydney on select dates through July and August 2021, this incredible opportunity allows you to spend more time shredding and carving your way down the mountain instead of weaving your way through traffic.

Board a private jet with eight luxurious leather seats (max. six guests) and fast-track your way straight to the slopes.

Airly and Luxury Escapes VIP Snow Day Trip

Enjoy a light breakfast onboard your 35-minute flight as you soar above the magnificent Snowy Mountains to reach Cooma Airport. Upon arrival, be greeted by a private chauffeur, who will transport you to the centre of Thredbo.

Head straight to the Kosciuszko Express or Merritts Gondola, where pre-arranged lift tickets await. Spend the day racing down the mountain and getting your fix of adrenaline before your afternoon return flight to Sydney, with light snacks served onboard.

This experience is really worth calling in sick for.

To learn more visit Luxury Escapes or contact us.

What celebrities have their own private jet?

What celebrities have their own private jet?

Ever wondered what celebrities own a private jet?

Look out Forbes and AFR, here’s Airly’s submission of JetList – the top 10 celebrities who own their own private jet.

What celebrities have their own private jet?

Airly’s inaugural JetList

The JetList ranks private jets owned by celebs ordered by price at the time of purchase.

10. Tom Cruise – Gulfstream GIV ($36m)

Tom Cruise private jet

We like this entry for the fact it’s a little old school. Mr Cruise’s 1998 Gulfstream is still a beautiful jet in its own right. Combined with his classic P-51 Mustang you can tell Maverick loves the nostalgia of aviation.

9. Jay Z – Challenger 850 ($40m)

Jay Z private jet

Beyonce reportedly paid $40m USD in 2012 for the Challenger as a Father’s Day present. What a present!

The 850 is the largest of the Challenger range, seating up to 19 passengers with some of the seats converting to beds for longer flights. The jet also features two bathrooms in the cabin.

8. Jackie Chan – Embraer Legacy 650 & 500 ($50m)

Jackie Chan Private Jet

It’s no secret that Jackie Chan is an avid Embraer fan. He purchased his Legacy 650 for $30m USD in 2012. In 2016, Chan added a brand new Legacy 500 to take care of shorter trips for $20m USD.

We’re yet to see Jackie buy into the new Embraer Praetor range, so watch this space.

7. Jim Carrey – Gulfstream V ($59m)

One of the greatest comedians is the proud owner of this Gulfstream V purchased for $59m USD.

Carrey makes his 1998 jet available for rent when he’s not using it, for around $8,000 an hour.

6. Oprah Winfrey – Gulfstream 650 ($70m)

Oprah Winfrey Private Jet

Ms Winfrey joins other celebrities who have upgraded their jets to the latest and greatest.

Oprah’s previous aircraft was a Bombardier Global Express XRS, showing no loyalty towards her jet manufacturer.

5. Kylie Jenner – Bombardier Global 7500 ($72m)

Kylie Jenner Private Jet

This is a perfect ‘top-shelf’ purchase in the Global 7500. The pink-branded jet is capable of flying 14,260km non-stop.

Reaching a three-comma status via her makeup brand, ‘Sky Ky’ was just one of Ms Jenner’s big ticket items during a spending spree in 2020.

4. Donald Trump – Boeing 757 ($100m)

Donald Trump Private Jet

Purchased from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2011 the ‘T-bird’ has become an iconic jet in the sky’s.

Normally a jet liner, the Boeing 757 was refurbished to accommodate 43 passengers with bathrooms featuring 24 carat gold fixtures!

Having spent the last 4 years on Air Force One we’re not quite sure where Mr Trump sits following reports of him flying on a Citation X ($4m USD) in recent weeks.

3. Bill Gates – Gulfstream 650ER x 2 ($140m)

As we researched on our JetList, we were surprised to see the Microsfoft founder owns a single Global Express ($40m).

However, after further digging, we learned that Mr Gates and his foundation also own 2 x Gulfstream 650ER private jets, valued at $70m USD each. The Bill & Melinder Gates Foundation also owns 2 x Challenger 350’s via NetJets, and other smaller aircraft.

2. Mark Cuban – Various ($280m+)

The popular internet billionaire broke records in 1999 paying $40m USD for his Gulfstream V. It was the largest internet transaction at the time!

Since then Cuban has also added two Boeing Business Jets to his hangar. One of which is used by his NBA team, the Dallas Mavericks, and the other his Boeing 767 which he also makes available to charter.

1. John Travolta – Various

Taking our inaugural number one place is John Travolta and his fleet of jets. When you can land your jet in the backyard and park it out the front of your mansion, it’s hard to not give him top billing.

It’s difficult to get a combined value of his fleet. With a vintage Boeing 707, Challenger 601 and EA500 being just 3 of his 6-11 aircraft.

He’s clearly quite the collector.

Learjet

End of an era: Vale the Learjet – long live the business jet

They said I’d never build it; that if I built it, it wouldn’t fly; that if it flew, I couldn’t sell it. Well I did and it did and I could.

William P. Lear, founder of the Lear Jet Corporation, and designed of arguably the world’s first business jet.

On February 11, 2021, Bombardier, who purchased the Learjet company in 1990, announced an end to production of all Learjet private jets. This marks a sad milestone for aviation, for it heralds the end of an era. For decades, since the company’s first aircraft, the Learjet 23, the name Learjet was synonymous with private aviation, business aviation, and aviation leadership.

While the Learjet name may be consigned to history, fortunately business and private aviation manufacturing, innovations, and business models continue to thrive.

Learjet 75 Liberty
Bombardier Learjet 75 Liberty

History of Lear Jet

The first Learjet 23 was delivered in 1964. It was the brainchild of inventor, businessman, and high-school drop out William (Bill) Lear. Over 46 years Lear was granted over 120 patents, contributing significantly to radio and aviation. He is, however, best known for creating a new category of fast and efficient business jets, and a brand that to many is the definition of a business jet. Before Lear Jet there simply was no business or private jet category – VIPs, states-persons, and celebrities that could afford to fly privately were limited to airliner-type aircraft.

The Learjet 23’s genesis began in Switzerland in the 1940s, where the Flug- und Fahrzeugwehrke Altenrhein (FFA) company was developing a domestically designed and manufactured fighter jet – the FFA P-16. The P-16 was never introduced into service and the program cancelled in favour of the proven British Hawker Hunter – but Bill Lear saw promise in the aircraft’s fundamental design as a business jet, having previously and unsuccessfully based preliminary designs on a US experimental aircraft named the Mississippi State University XV-11 Marvel.

In 1960 Lear founded the Swiss American Aircraft Corporation in Switzerland and began work on the initially-named SAAC-23 Execujet. In 1962, frustrated by slow progress in Switzerland, Lear moved SAAC’s factory tooling to Wichita, Kansas and renamed the company the Lear Jet Corporation. Production began in 1962 with the first flight of the Learjet 23 taking placing the following year. On October 13, 1964, the first production aircraft was delivered and over a two year production run 101 Learjet 23s were delivered.

The Learjet makes sense
Aviation Week – 5 July 1965

Learjet Legacy

Fast forward 25 years, and it was the Learjet 31 that ultimately delivered on Lear’s vision of the definitive business jet.

Only 200 Learjet 31s were produced between 1988 and 2002, with many of these still in service. Often referred to as “the Porsche of the sky,” the 31 combines the empennage-mounted engine design with the distinctive “Longhorn” wing configuration. With seating for eight passengers, the jet is capable of climbing at over 5,000 feet per minute, reaching cruise altitude of 47,000 feet and 0.81 March in 28 minutes. A service ceiling of 51,000 feet puts the Learjet 31 in rarefied air. With efficient fuel consumption and field performance, both the Learjet 31 and the slightly upgraded 31A are still favoured by many passengers and operators today.

Learjet 31
Learjet 31

Having sold a significant portion of his company to the Gates Rubber Company in 1967, the Gates Learjet Corporation was acquired by Integrated Acquisition in 1987 and renamed the Learjet Corporation. In 1990, Bombardier Aerospace purchased the company and initiated a clean-sheet design and marketing of the “Bombardier Learjet Family.”

Celebrating the legend of the Learjet

The Learjet 60 was the first of this new lineage, followed by the Learjet 45. Similar to how the 31 revolutionised business aviation, the Learjet 45 fused the operating economics of a light business jet with the comfort of a mid-size jet, while remaining true to Learjet’s excellent performance. The Learjet 75 is the final jet to bear the Learjet name, with first delivery having taken place in 2013 and production ceasing this year.

Learjet 45
Learjet 45

The future of business aviation

The end of the Learjet marque is nostalgic, but should not be seen as a bellwether for the business aviation industry. For several decades, the business and private aerospace industry has been increasingly fragmenting – offering a relatively small pool of consumers an excessive amount of aircraft options. By comparison, the commercial aviation sector has consolidated to effectively two manufacturers – Airbus and Boeing. The private jet industry has several – Bombardier, Cessna, Dassault, Embraer, Gulfstream, and even Airbus Corporate Jets and Boeing Business Jets. For reference, Airbus and Boeing delivered 723 aircraft in 2020, while global business jet deliveries numbered 644.

Consolidation is a natural part of the evolution of any industry as technologies advance and market expectations grow.

Jensen & Copier, The Pros and Cons of Industry Consolidation, OEM Off-Highway, 31 Aug 2020

The business aviation industry is likely behind commercial aerospace in terms of industry consolidation maturity. A Deloitte 2017 analysis of the merger and acquisition trends in aerospace and defense anticipated (generally) that “aerospace and defense companies would increasingly look to M&A (and joint ventures) as a means to grow, specifically by expanding product portfolios, gaining new technical capabilities, and expanding into new geographies.”

Deans, Kroeger & Zeisel, The Consolidation Curve, Harvard Business Review, Dec 2002

This industry consolidation is good for operators, owners, and travelers, in bringing cost efficiencies and technological advances together. Competition is healthy, and we can expect there to remain a handful of business jet manufacturers; but some consolidation in a high-capital, regulatory intensive, and difficult to enter industry is beneficial for all.

While the brand may not be seen on aircraft beyond this year, over fifty years of Learjet’s innovations and progress will continue to serve Bombardier’s business aircraft competitive advantage, and deliver value to operators and travelers.

Learjet 35A
Learjet 35A
Adelaide by private Jet

Fly to Cooma and Adelaide by private jet; new routes added to the SHARED program

After celebrating 300 members on our SHARED private jet membership the team have announced the addition of Adelaide and Cooma to the network.

Fly to Adelaide by private jet.

The changes come along with price increases to the entire network. These were necessary to help combat rising costs, less-predictable demand and to help activate more private jet flights in a shared environment.

Make the most of your Airly Private Jet Membership

Fly to Adelaide by private jet

As a result of the changes we have included Adelaide and Cooma as new destinations.

Adelaide will be accessible from Melbourne and Sydney airports.

Cooma will be a seasonal option from Sydney perfect for Winter.

Fly to Cooma by private jet

To take advantage of these changes you need to be part of Airly’s SHARED program.

First of all download and register the Airly private jet app. Then you can apply for membership.

Falcon 2000LX in Sydney

Falcon 2000LX lands at Sydney

Dassault Aviation’s philosophy behind their successful Falcon range is simple – to enable business aviation. In this article we take a look at the Falcon 2000LX.

Falcon 2000LX in Sydney

That is, Dassault’s vision is to help others realise the benefits of business aviation, such as corporate development and growth, as well as traveling flexibility.  Having delivered over 2,500 Falcons, Dassault have been a market leader in the wide cabin, long range aircraft segment for over 50 years.  Additionally, through Dassault Aviation’s Defense business, the Falcon jet range benefit from the advanced technological innovations developed for combat aircraft, including cockpit systems, digital flight control systems, head-up displays, flight qualities, and aerodynamics.

History of the Falcon 2000

The Falcon 2000, certified in 1994, introduced several features that progressed the private jet beyond its tri-engined predecessor, the Falcon 900, and set the Falcon family on its successful trajectory to an industry leading marque.  A decade later and the Falcon 2000LX improved on the 2000’s features through modified wings and blended winglets, improving climb performance and range.

Falcon 2000LX touches down in Sydney

Last week, a newly Australian-registered Falcon 2000LX landed at Sydney Airport.  From a comfort perspective the LX’s 6.1 ft tall, 7.7 ft wide, and 26.3 ft long cabin is spacious, light, and well-appointed for its extended range capability.  Although the aircraft is designed to hold up to 19 passengers, the newly arrived one is luxuriously configured for eight passengers with the cabin arranged in two distinct areas of a forward double club arrangement, and the rear with four-person conference table plus a two-person lounge available once the seat belt sign is extinguished.  Two of the forward area seats can fold down, allowing comfortable lie-flat napping.  The windows are large, filling the cabin with natural light, and the forward seating area offers in-seat audio-visual facilities.  A comprehensive galley, stand-up lavatory, and 134 cubic feet of accessible baggage space round out the long-range comforts of the Falcon 2000LX.   

Falcon private jet cabin
Falcon 2000LX forward cabin

From a performance perspective the sharp looking winglets make an incredible difference over the standard 2000.  Although the LX has the same airfoil and wingspan of the Falcon EX, the winglets increase the LX’s range by 200 nautical miles to over 4,000 nautical miles with eight passengers.  From Sydney Airport, this range grants access to destinations from New Zealand across to much of South East Asia.  The winglets also help the jet climb to FL410 in just 18 minutes, powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW308C engines that provide slightly more thrust and performance than the 2000, and provide the jet with a cruise speed of 482 knots at 39,000 feet.

The rear cabin
Rear club configuration

A pilot’s delight

The elegant and modern dual-crew cockpit employs the functional and simple Rockwell Collins Pro Line 4 fully-integrated avionics suite, centred around the Honeywell EASy Avionics panel, and four large flat panel display screens. The aircraft comes standard with an Allied Signal Flight Management System, Collins Doppler weather radar, and a dual channel Integrated Avionics Processor System.  

The Flight Deck

The Falcon 2000LX embodies the benefits of business aviation through its understated performance, and inherent flexibility.  But perhaps most notably, it exemplifies Marcel Dassault’s famous quote, “for an aircraft to fly well, it must be beautiful.”

And now, it is available to Airly members and charter clients.