Monday, April 15, 2024 Apr 15, 2024
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JSX’s New Aircraft Could Revolutionize Air Travel—Again

Despite an existential regulatory threat, the Dallas-based carrier is betting big on electric-hybrid aircraft with lower emissions and dramatically shorter takeoff and landing requirements.
| |Images courtesy of JSX
The JSX Aura Aero Era Courtesy: JSX

JSX is set to purchase approximately 332 hybrid electric aircraft that don’t need a standard runway to take off, setting the stage for what could be another air travel revolution.

The Dallas-based regional air carrier will be one of the first in the world to bring environmentally-friendly aircraft to the sky. JSX plans to purchase the aircrafts from Electra, Aura Aero, and Heart Aerospace, with the first delivery in 2028. Some of these aircraft can take off and land with only 150 feet of runway, meaning an airport may not even be necessary. “It stands to fundamentally shift the entire paradigm around how we think about travel. There are still many unknowns, but JSX will be among the first in the world to bring this technology to the skies, and we look forward to answering these questions together with our manufacturers and regulators,” JSX CEO Alex Wilcox says.

JSX’s public charter operations already reach thousands of airports across the country, but the capabilities of the new aircraft will expand its reach even further. The company is bullish on its future, despite an existential threat facing air carriers like JSX.

A group of major airlines and pilot unions have asked the FAA to enforce stricter regulations on JSX and companies like it. The laws currently allow operators like JSX—which offers 41 point-to-point flights around the country and has 1,200 employees—to avoid much of the hassle of modern air travel. Patrons park their car in a different area 20 minutes before the flight, walk up, and board, allowing customers to avoid long TSA and ticketing lines for flights of 30 people or less.

But Southwest Airlines and American Airlines submitted comments to the FAA requesting that JSX and similar companies abide by the same safety standards as the major airlines, closing the public charter loophole. “There is no longer any justification for maintaining two sets of standards for scheduled operations in airplanes with a passenger-seating configuration of 10 or more seats. When a passenger pays for a ticket on an FAA-certificated commuter operation, that passenger must be assured of the highest possible level of safety,” Southwest Airlines wrote to the FAA.

Wilcox says the change would eliminate his company’s competitive advantage but is confident that a combination of good sense, JSX’s stellar safety record, and commercial success will help it prevail—and help air travel reduce its carbon footprint along the way. “The baseless allegations brought against JSX are commercially motivated by opponents who’d rather legislate innovation out of the market than compete,” Wilcox says. “Regional air travel is the logical starting point for the hybrid-electric aircraft revolution, and no operator is better experienced than JSX to help usher in such a promising advancement in urban mobility.”

The Aircraft

Wilcox says JSX is committed to offering consumer-friendly, carbon-reducing travel and hopes to move in the opposite direction from major airlines, who are purchasing larger aircraft that smaller airports and markets may not be able to support. JSX currently operates 48 Embraer E145 family aircraft, each configured with 30 passenger seats.

The Electra eSTOL (electric Short Takeoff and Landing) aircraft is a low-emission aircraft that can transport nine passengers or 2,500 pounds of cargo and can fly up to 500 nautical miles. The Virginia-based manufacturer’s aircraft can take off and land in less than 150 feet at slow speeds and has batteries that recharge in flight, so there is no need for ground charging stations. Its lower airspeed and takeoff capabilities allow it to serve smaller cities and regional airports.

The French Aura Aero Era can transport 19 passengers of 1.9 tons of freight and has a flexible seating configuration. It has a range of up to 900 nautical miles and uses all-electric propulsion for takeoff, minimizing noise and environmental impact.

The Swedish Heart Aerospace ES-30 is a hybrid electric airplane with a capacity of 30 passengers and similarly offers low emissions and reduced noise pollution. It can fly up to 500 miles, including 250 miles of hybrid range and 125 miles under full-electric power with zero emissions.

The Revolution

The lower operating costs, smaller size, reduced noise level, and shorter takeoff requirements of the new aircraft will allow JSX to operate in smaller airports and municipalities (see potential route map below), offering commercial air travel in places like Del Rio, Texas, which lost all commercial flights after the pandemic.

Wilcox says how the aircraft will be used is yet to be determined. But the possibilities could revolutionize air travel from an environmental and access standpoint. “Even though JSX has access to thousands of airports that network airlines do not, with such a small distance needed to land and take off, would an airport even be necessary?” he asks. “The hybrid-electric aircraft revolution doesn’t just stand to restore regional air transportation back into the fabric of the nation—it stands to fundamentally shift the entire paradigm around how we think about travel.”

JSX expects to offer point-to-point regional air travel using the new aircraft beginning in 2028.


Will Maddox

Will Maddox

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Will is the senior writer for D CEO magazine and the editor of D CEO Healthcare. He's written about healthcare…

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