David Kirkpatrick

April 17, 2008

James Fallows on air taxis

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:05 am

Just got around to reading a good chunk of the print May Atlantic magazine. James Fallows has a great article on “air taxis” covering what is happening right now in the US Southeast and the overall feasibility of the concept.

Very cool stuff and an interesting article. Overall it looks like a promising way to get around at a reasonable price for consumers.

From the link:

How could a brand-new company in the chronically troubled aviation business have come so quickly to the point where its main challenge is growing too fast? And this through a period when security concerns of all sorts have risen, fuel prices have soared, environmental doubts about aviation have intensified, and airports and airways have become more congested by the day—and the economy of the company’s home area, in southern Florida, has been through a real-estate crash?

The answer involves an odd assemblage of talents and disciplines that includes American computer scientists who call their specialty “ant farming”; Russian mathe­matical prodigies who made their way from Minsk and Moscow to Florida, via Jerusalem; Internet-business pioneers; and, yes, pilots and maintenance experts and dispatchers, including many refugees or retirees from the troubled airlines. Plus Bruce Holmes himself, who joined the company a year ago, after NASA radically cut back its airplane-related activities to shift its resources to space exploration.

DayJet’s success to date has also depended on the confluence of several technologies that all matured at once. Indeed, the most startling aspect of its story is the insistence from top to bottom that at heart, it is not an aviation company at all. “You could think of us as really a software company,” Jim Herriott, one of the ant farmers, told me. What he meant was that the Internet has become an unimaginably refined and powerful tool for routing packets of data from place to place. “We are about developing an Internet for stuff”—the stuff in this case being passengers in seats.

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