Flexjet, Sentient parent OneSky orders 200 Embraer Eve eVTOLs

The order follows Directional Aviation’s purchase of helicopter operators Associated Aircraft Group (AAG) and Halo Aviation, Ltd., both being rebranded as Halo.

By Doug Gollan, June 1, 2021

Flexjet and Sentient Jet customers could see benefits from Directional’s vertical strategy by the Fall

This morning, Directional Aviation’s OneSky Flight unit said it had ordered 200 eVTOLs from Embraer-backed Eve Urban Air Mobility Solutions. It continues a longstanding partnership with the Brazilian OEM. Flexjet uses the Phenom 300 as its light jet option. It has made the Praetor 500 and 600 the core of its midsize and super-midsize fleet.

Where private aviation was previously thought of in terms of moving people from airport to airport, today’s travel is becoming a doorstep-to-doorstep concept.

Andrew Collins, CEO of OneSky Flight’s jet cards, on-demand charter, and vertical lift

According to a recent article by Future Flight, “The all-electric Eve aircraft is expected to have a range of up to around 60 miles, and Embraer predicts it will be up to 80% quieter than current helicopters and with 50% lower operating costs.”

One hundred of the vehicles will be used for operations in the United States and 100 will operate in the United Kingdom.

Kenn Ricci, principal of Directional and chairman of OneSky Flight, tells Private Jet Card Comparisons that the order is part of a 15-year vertical strategy centered around New York, London, and soon, a third city.

In February, OneSky acquired Associated Aircraft Group from Sikorsky. In May, it picked up U.K. operator Halo Aviation, Ltd. Combined, they give OneSky 30 owned and managed Leonardo and Sikorsky helicopters to serve the New York and London markets. Both operators will now fly under the Halo banner. In addition, some helicopters will carry Flexjet branding, a sort of mobile billboard in two of business aviation’s most important markets.

Vertical Strategy

Over the next five years, the two helicopter companies it acquired will offer the fixed-wing operator experience running a vertical operation, Ricci says.

He adds the acquisitions and today’s order are part of a 15-year vision for urban mobility. Until the eVTOLs come online, beginning in 2026, Directional will integrate the helicopter services into its current offerings. Then, during the next five years, eVTOLs will go into service, flying similar missions.

Beyond that, Ricci sees eVTOLs expanding access between new points of origin. That could mean Jetsons-like options from your rooftop, backyard, or perhaps a local shopping center.

Andrew Collins, who oversees Sentient Jet, FXAIR, and PrivateFly, will lead the vertical unit.

“Where private aviation was previously thought of in terms of moving people from airport to airport, today’s travel is becoming a doorstep-to-doorstep concept,” Collins says.

He adds, “With the Halo and AAG leadership team’s core competency, we are particularly well-positioned to create that new reality better than any other provider. We are on the cusp of global aviation innovations that you can’t even imagine.”

Bolstering the effort, PrivateFly CEO Adam Twidell recently stepped into a new role leading Directional’s future flight initiatives. That includes working with government agencies and local municipalities to help craft the rules and regulations. According to the press release, Eve and Halo will work together with the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority and U.S. regulators towards that end.

Flexjet vs. NetJets

Most interesting to customers of OneSky’s brands will be integrated options as soon as this fall. That could include free or highly discounted transfer options for top customers of Flexjet, Sentient, FXAIR, and PrivateFly.

For example, flights between Teterboro Airport in New Jersey to Manhattan’s West 30th Street Heliport, which sits adjacent to Hudson Yards, take about six minutes. However, during rush hour, the 12-mile drive can take over an hour. Similarly, offering vertical add-on flights to other heliports could give Ricci’s private jet providers an edge as it battles competitors.

Flexjet is the second-largest fractional operator in North America. Since the beginning of 2019, Flexjet trails market leader NetJets in departures and arrivals into New York City airports. According to WingX, the larger player holds an 85,000-to-30,000 flight margin. At various London airports, the margin is 20-to-1 compared to NetJets Europe. Flexjet only launched a fractional program late last year.

Wheels Up, the second-largest for-hire private aviation provider in the U.S., recently said it would launch its helicopter service in conjunction with Textron Bell by year’s end. Jet Linx, which holds the fifth spot, said it plans to work with Blade. Neither NetJets nor fourth-ranked Vista Global has announced plans to go vertical.

In the meantime, Directional customers should soon expect to see helicopter offerings as program options.

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