...But Devil's Details Waiting In The Wings
The A700 AdamJet made its inaugural flight in July 2003 and joined an increasingly crowded field of manufacturers in the light-light jet category. Adam says that the A700 AdamJet "is to date the only flying aircraft in the next-generation jet category," yet the flying example is far from a production prototype. Put it another way -- Adam Aircraft has built at least three copies of its A500 push-me/pull-you piston twin, with two flying in regular certification tests. The A500 prototypes have accumulated around 500 hours, but the type isn't certificated yet. The A700 has accumulated over 150 hours of flight time, according to the company, yet FAA certification and first delivery of the A700 is planned for the first quarter of 2005. This is in sharp contrast to the certification and delivery schedules put forth by competitors Cessna -- which has the art of bringing new aircraft types to certification on-schedule down to a well-defined science -- and Eclipse, to name but two. The punch line? Don't hold your breath waiting for iFly to begin operations with the A700 AdamJet by early next year.
"The A700 is approximately half the price of current generation small jets and costs roughly a third less to operate per hour," stated Joe Walker, president of Adam Aircraft, in the company's press release. Don Burr and Bob Crandall are the first to apply this major breakthrough in efficiencies to a new form of private-jet air transportation service. Says Burr: "Our business model is dependent on innovative designers and manufacturers like Adam making the promise of next-generation, highly efficient personal jets a reality, and we are well on our way to delivering on this promise with a fleet of A700s." However, don't confuse the iFly service as competing with either airlines or privately owned aircraft. Instead, the company is clearly aiming to compete against both traditional charter and fractional operators. Said the Adam Aircraft press release, iFly "represents an entirely new class of travel that makes the dramatic quality of life and productivity benefits of private jet travel accessible to a much broader group of people. The company will be the first to take advantage of a new generation of highly cost-effective and reliable personal jets. By using the existing network of regional airports, the company will provide private truly on-demand, point-to-point air travel for about half the price of the least expensive current private aircraft alternatives." Good luck, guys.