Monday, October 13, 2008

Hitting Turbulence at Linear Air

I've been wondering for a while what's up with Linear Air, the pioneering air taxi service operating out of Hanscom Field in Bedford.

... First there was the crazy spike in oil prices.

... Then the FAA temporarily grounded the zippy new Eclipse 500 jets that make up part of their fleet, pending an inspection of the throttle.

... Then there were questions about whether the FAA's certification process for the new Eclipse "very light jet" was conducted properly.

... Then, last month, one of the biggest air taxi operators flying the Eclipse, Florida-based Dayjet, stopped flying "as a result of the company’s inability to arrange critical financing in the midst of the current global financial crisis."

All tough breaks for a start-up.

I spoke with Linear CEO Bill Herp last week. He told me that "fuel prices are not as much of a problem. They're coming back down." The throttle inspection was completed in a couple of hours, he said.

Herp said that the demand for flights in July and August was much greater than the company could satisfy.

Part of the problem is that the Eclipse jets have proved tough to maintain. "There has been a lack of support for the aircraft from [the manufacturer], and problems with spare parts supply," Herp said. That hasn't been helped by a restructuring at Eclipse Aviation that, according to Herp, has consumed its maintenance staffers. On a typical day, Linear has only one or two of the four Eclipse jets in its fleet available for flights. (The rest of Linear's fleet consists of three Cessna Caravans, which are single-engine turboprop aircraft.)

Linear recently laid off about one-third of its staff, Herp said, or about 15 employees.

He still believes that the air taxi model can work, and is currently trying to raise $1 million to $1.5 million in financing to keep the company running and give it "12 months of breathing room."

I wrote about Linear and the Eclipse in the Globe last August; also shot some video of the first Eclipse the company acquired for its fleet.

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Blogger BlackRainbow said...

Very interesting post Thank you.Ohh and btw thx for the link to the globe.Keep up the good work!!!

Heatherlyn Ferrell

October 13, 2008 7:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Linear Air has hit even harder turbulence over the past two months and may not be far from folding its wings all together. Early in December, Linear Air terminated more than two-thirds of it's employees and has been working to return most of it's leased aircraft back to their owners. They have one remaining Caravan that is for sale and four of the troubled Eclipse Jets that fly very rarely according to Flight Aware.

January 11, 2009 3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good observation on flight aware..I think that Linear Air made a major blunder
* by getting too excited about the soltice 500, its poor capacity to carry passengers over 300nm.

* by having poorly selected advertising campaign.

* By having non sales people sell charters

I think that Linear does not need more capital to keep on gliding but rather needs to get rid of lest to fly higher.

January 11, 2009 11:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In addition to the previous post, Mr. Herp, is a businessman that should have stayed out of Aviation in the first place. His failure to quickly recognize the need to switch platforms away from the troubled Eclipse, has resulted in lost jobs and surely the steep decline in the company's health. At this point they will be forced to pinch every penny, which isn't always the best thing when your dealing with airplanes and passenger safety.

January 22, 2009 10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Linear Air has succumbed to the short comings of both the Eclipse Jet and its lack of experienced leadership in Bill Herp and others. They were a successful and growing company with the platform of the Caravan and went to the Eclipse Jet to take over the fleet. The Eclipse was oversold by Eclipse Aviation in its performance and the lack of experience by Linear Airs leadership to see this was the undoing of the company. The Eclipse aircraft from the moment of delivery to Linear Air were plagued with mechanical issues and yet Linear Air went forward with purchasing more Eclipses while phasing out of the Caravans. Like Vern at Eclipse and the folks at DayJet Bill Herp should have stayed out of Aviation.

January 27, 2009 1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just leave the aviation business to aviation professionals, not amateurs with MBA's that are haunted by dreams of a nascent TWA

January 27, 2009 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

January 22nd posting questions passenger safety - is that ethical commentary?

Sounds like Anonymous #1 has an axe to grind with the management of Linear.

February 2, 2009 1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

April 20th, Eclipse went into Chapter 7 Bankruptcy liquidation. Linear is attempting to bid for maintenance of the 500-odd aircraft in operation today spread around the states. Hmm. Doesn't bode well for their ability to operate their air taxi business. Their strategy was linked largely to the Eclipse product. Even FlightAware shows very few Linear Air operations.

May 1, 2009 4:15 PM  

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