I N N O V A T I O N
CEO of FlyBlackbird
The general aviation fl ight-sharing platform
What's your business model
and how is it disruptive?
We are the only aviation market
place in existence that's focused on
general aviation. That means charter
operators can use our platform, but
more importantly private plane owners
can use it too. These private planes
typically only get flown one to 2% of the time.
The rest of the time they just sit on the tarmac.
We match these planes with commercial pilots, who
also apply to be on the platform. It's a way for private
owners to earn money by renting their plane out and
for pilots to earn more money and flying miles.
More importantly, it gives customers an
opportunity to fly wherever they like for a very low
price. We're all about giving access to a completely
different customer base, one that until now
has been priced out of using charter.
Have you found the business
aviation sector to be
resistant to change?
It's very antiquated. General
aviation hasn't seen any real
innovation since the 1950s.
Has it been challenging
operating in such an
It's definitely been a
challenge. Clay Christianson, the
academic who coined the term
disruption, used the Ford Model T
as a classic example of a disruptive
technology. It wasn't that Ford invented the
car, but they invented the assembly line which lead to
mass adoption, he said.
So, we're not inventing this mode of transport,
we're just making what has traditionally been
aspirational and out of reach accessible to the
common person. A lot of people see us coming
along and they don't appreciate what we're doing
because we change their margin equation. Until
now the charter industry has enjoyed an incredibly
inefficient marketplace with no transparency about
pricing and about who's good and who's bad.
How have you dealt with this resistance?
What inevitably happens is that any time anyone
vehemently disagrees with us, we invite them in and
they walk away being supporters. In part because
our model is going to help solve the problem of the
pilot shortage in private aviation, which is on the
horizon. The regional airlines used to be the feeder
system for pilots to get enough flying hours to get
their Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) - the license needed
to pilot scheduled commercial flights in the US. But
the regional airlines have mostly gone away. Now
if you want to get your ATP you have to subsidise
it yourself. What we're doing is providing a way for
these pilots to get the hours they need for the ATP
and earn money along the way. Once we lay out this
context for people, they generally walk away happy.
What will business aviation look like in 2025?
We're really excited to embrace electric fixed-wing
planes because in the next five years for the 50
to 500 mile journey, small electric aircraft will be
cheaper than driving. Whenever you introduce
something like that into the transportation eco-system
you create behavior change.
BUSINESS AIRPORT INTERNATIONAL O C TO B E R 2 0 1 9 | 21
“Our model is going to
help solve the problem
of the pilot shortage
in private aviation”