OpenAirplane, the operation that attempted to make renting general aviation aircraft as simple as renting a car, is shutting down. I’ve completed two Universal Checkouts in the OpenAirplane system, but like many pilots, I never exercised the privileges.
I’ve been a follower of Rod Rakic for some time, and I’m sorry to see his endeavor didn’t make it:
General aviation is a bit like teenage sex. Lots of people talk about it, even when few are doing it. Survey data is not anywhere close to being as valuable as being in the market and following real money. Consumers are fickle, and humans are terrible at estimating utilization. Long before we launched OpenAirplane, we surveyed thousands of pilots. They told us they would fly an average of 10 hours a year more than they do today. That did not come to pass. Demonstrating to us at least that surveys are a terrible way to capture intent. While the idea of OpenAirplane won us praise, fans, and even super fans, the reality is that too few pilots took to the skies to make the operation sustainable.
If there’s one thing that we learned the hard way, it is that it’s tough to get pilots off the couch and into the cockpit.
To add to that, it’s getting harder to justify $!50+ per rental hour to fly. The GA industry needs to allow for innovation if it’s going to survive.