COMMUTER CLUB

MySky operates 4 Pilatus PC12s to provide shuttle memberships for business travelers in the Southeast US

Single-engine turboprop costs are far below those of jets and keep commuters pleased to avoid use of airlines or driving.


MySky routes are JAX (Jacksonville FL) to JQF (Charlotte Concord Regional, Concord NC), JAX to PDK (DeKalb–Peachtree, Atlanta GA), and a JQF–PDK pair. These routes are currently flown on demand while the company continues to build its membership base.

MySky requires a $750 refundable deposit with an annual commitment, 3-month minimum, and 60-day cancellation notice. To ensure ample seat availability, MySky is only enrolling 100 members per city. The initial phases have 2 aircraft running 3 city pairs per day – morning, afternoon and evening – all to destinations under 90 minutes.

Future routes will expand MySky's reach to Tampa, Miami, New Orleans, Memphis, and Nashville. And eventually, the company may consider expanding to the mid-Atlantic as the need arises.

At the destination FBO a MySky concierge meets each passenger to help streamline check in, boarding, car rentals, etc. "Our goal is to provide a very personalized, stress-free and luxurious experience both during the flight and on the ground," says Mintzer.

While this business model is unique, it's not new. It has been demonstrated to work with the right leadership, right aircraft, and right routes. The team at MySky is very deliberate and calculated in how they approach growing the company. In addition to using data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), which shows where and how people move, MySky is continuously studying what others have done both right and wrong, and that way they determine the best course of action. "Through mathematical analysis and study of the demographics, we believe MySky is exactly what business travelers on the East Coast need. In fact, it's long overdue," declares Mintzer.

The team at MySky expects a bright future with the addition of bigger aircraft – possibly jets. Mintzer and his key team members are examining the possibility of adding equity partners. They're looking for the correct investor, ideally a patient, sophisticated person who will be the right fit to help take the company to new heights.

Jim Lawson, co-owner and director of operations

Growing up in the Top Gun generation, Jim Lawson always dreamed of becoming a Navy fighter pilot. He began flying in 1987 while still in high school and enlisted in the Navy upon graduation. After 3 years, he was accepted to the US Naval Academy at Annapolis MD, where he graduated with a BS in mechanical engineering and was then selected for flight school. Lawson earned his Naval Aviator wings in 1998 and served as a Lockheed P3 Orion patrol plane commander. He was also a training, readiness and operations officer.

Lawson left active duty in 2007, joined the Naval Reserves and began his civilian career. His military equivalence qualified him to move directly into a chief pilot position with a Part 135 activity. In that position he managed 24 pilots, 9 aircraft and various team members, and he also learned the skills of Part 135 ops, FAA check airman responsibilities and aircraft management.

In 2007, Lawson moved to Florida with his Lockheed C130 Hercules reserve squadron, the VR62 Nomads. In 2013, he was promoted to commander and now serves as the commanding officer of the VR54 Revelers in charge of 237 officers and enlisted sailors. Shortly after arriving in Florida, he launched his own civilian company to provide flight training, pilot services and aircraft management. The name was JELAir.

Lawson holds ATP and CFII licenses, has logged over 10,700 flight hours and has 11 type ratings. As director of operations and training at MySky, Lawson is in charge of all pilot training, check rides, aircraft management and FAA/DOT compliance.

Pilot requirements, training and lifestyle

To keep costs low and productivity high, Boomerang Air Charter currently outsources for pilot services and maintenance. The company has 8 contract pilots and plans to add more as memberships increase. All pilots must meet Part 135 experience minimums. PICs must also have 1000 hours turbine time.

Although the Pilatus PC12 is rated for single pilot operations, most flights dispatch with 2 pilots. To fly as an FO, pilots must have at minimum a Commercial certificate with instrument rating and 500 hours flight time.

All pilots go through in-house training programs approved by FAA and the insurance company. Training is followed by a Part 135 check ride in the PC12 with Lawson. Additionally, all pilots train in upset recovery, hypoxia and emergency evacuation procedures to enhance safety.

Boomerang Air Charter offers pilots a set schedule with 14-hour duty days, an average of 6 legs or 3 round trips, and then they return to their home base.

Aircraft fleet and equipment

Boomerang Air Charter currently flies a fleet of 4 Pilatus PC12s. This quiet-cabin single-engine turboprop has capacity for up to 9 passengers and provides exceptional performance on less fuel than other TPs. "The Pilatus is the perfect aircraft for our missions," says Mintzer.

"It's fast, economical, passenger-centric and very safe. The Southeast region is overpopulated with expensive jets, but with the PC12 we burn 1/3rd less fuel and provide comparable comfort."

With a range of 1582 nm, the Pilatus PC12 is more than sufficient for MySky's city pairs, and can travel up to 280 kts. Improved equipment installed in 2 of the PC12s include the newer P&WC PT6 67B engines and Honeywell Primus Apex avionics suites with 4 large LCD screens. Another of their 4 is powered by the new STC 67P P&WC engine with 5 blade composite MT propeller with a Garmin G600 glass cockpit.

"The Pilatus PC12 is a very versatile turboprop with 3000 lbs of useful load that can carry 8 people with all their bags, take off from a short runway and fly over 1200 nm at the same speed as a King Air 200 with half the fuel burn," says Lawson. "Passengers love the roomy cabin and lower-than-jets turboprop cost per hour."

Charity/philanthropy

Mintzer founded a different kind of organization in 2013, a charity called HelpFourPaws. The operation uses small aircraft to move animals – mostly dogs – to shelters in north Florida and south Georgia, where animal rescue groups care for them prior to adoption. Today, Help Four Paws primarily uses ground vehicles that enable rescue crews to access animals in the region.

Conclusion

MySky is plotting a course for better business air travel in the Southeast US, a geographic area where, mathematically, this model is a no-brainer. Using the membership concept, MySky is providing more people access to the convenience and luxury of private aviation at a relatively low price compared to private jet travel. MySky is a member of both NBAA and AOPA. Altogether, this is a great new air travel operation and we expect MySky to have an excellent future growth.

Cindy Youngblood holds an ATP license and is type rated in the BE400, CE500 and CE560XL. She serves as president of Women in Corporate Aviation and has extensive experience in both Part 91 and Part 135 ops.


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