Business & GA, Regulation

Delta Private Jets President Talks Sky Access and More

Cessna Citation CJ3. Photo courtesy of Delta Private Jets

Delta Private Jets launched its new Sky Access membership model in January. It is designed to provide what the Part 135 air carrier describes as “affordable” access to empty-leg flights. Empty leg flights occur when operators are positioning an aircraft in their fleets for its next scheduled flight, and passengers are offered last-minute, one-way access to the next destination.

Gary Hammes, who took over as president of Delta Private Jets after serving as COO of Virgin Australia for two years, discussed with Avionics the new Sky Access program, as well as avionics and connectivity equipage plans for its fleet of more than 70 aircraft.

What drove Delta Private Jets to launch the Sky Access program?

Sky Access was launched to provide an entry-level private aviation offering for consumers. The new product allows members to experience private aviation without a large upfront commitment while providing access to unlimited empty leg flights as well as the opportunity to book private jet flights with fixed hourly rates and guaranteed availability.

Empty legs account for 65 to 70% of charter flights and are driven by the need to reposition an aircraft prior to the next customer flight. Sky Access members can view upcoming empty leg flights in real time via the Delta Private Jets mobile app or client portal on the Delta Private Jets website.

What drives business jet operators to upgrade their aircraft with new avionics and other onboard technologies?

Government regulation is driving ADS-B upgrades. Consumer demand is driving enhanced Wi-Fi capabilities. We want our customer experience on board to exceed their expectations.

Customer demand related to connectivity in flight drives us to deliver top-tier GoGo Wi-Fi across the board on the Delta Private Jets fleet. Owner preference drives demand in much of the avionics package upgrades.

Of course, regulatory requirements drive a small portion of avionics upgrades through changes in regulations.

What would you say is the most advanced jet that Delta Private Jets currently flies?

Our most technology enhanced airplanes are in our large cabin fleet. Most of our Gulfstream and Challenger aircraft are equipped with a position-reporting system that allows flying in the North Atlantic track system. This system uses the global positioning satellite system and satellite communication to provide precise position tracking of aircraft transiting across the North Atlantic.

Are there any new tools, testing methods or aircraft health monitoring technologies that your maintenance techs are using?

To maintain our fleet to the highest level of readiness, we have developed a fleet reliability index. We use the fleet data we receive through maintenance discrepancies, discovery items in scheduled maintenance checks and pilot reports to evaluate the fleet. Top out-of-service drivers are analyzed to find the root cause. Once identified, a proactive corrective action is applied across the appropriate fleet or ATA.

Is there any aspect of your flight operations that you’d like to become more efficient?

Flight operations would like to make the planning process for our pilots more efficient by consolidating the number of applications they use daily. By streamlining this process, our pilots will be able to provide better customer service for our clients.

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