SBIR Phase I: Adaptive Aircraft Scheduling for the Emerging Air Taxi Industry

Period of Performance: 01/01/2008 - 12/31/2008

$100K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

JIT SlipStream LLC
8200 Greensboro Dr., Suite 900
McLean, VA 22102
Principal Investigator

Abstract

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will investigate efficient scheduling methods for the emerging air taxi industry. Unlike conventional airlines, air taxis will carry customers from one airport to another on demand, not on a published timetable. The logistics requirements go beyond existing paradigms in the technical literature, such as dial-a-ride or traveling salesman. Air taxi companies must be able to aggregate unpredictable, unstructured, randomly arriving demand into a set of aircraft itineraries that they can assign pilots to fly. The research objective is to investigate the feasibility of adapting a linear programming fleet assignment methodology (typically used at airlines) to produce continuously updating, efficient schedules for the air taxi industry. The scheduling methodologies that will be investigated and refined in the course of this Phase I project are mission-critical to the success of the air taxi industry: without an efficient automated scheduling system, air taxi operators will be unable to manage the complex logistics beyond 10-15 aircraft. JIT SlipStream's long-term plans are to develop an industry-wide internet booking engine (which might possibly include conventional airline flights as an alternative). Such a system would provide value to both consumers (who would see multiple options for fulfilling their travel needs) and operators (who would get efficient aircraft routings, customized for their operation). Other macroeconomic benefits will be accrued if the air taxi industry is successful. Improved transportation to small communities will enhance their general economic prospects.