Takin’ to the Skies


Hope everyone had a good weekend. I couldn’t think of a good intro this week so let’s just get into it. The rest of it will be good, I promise.

I know by now you all may be tired of hearing about decentralization and how it’s a hugely emerging trend, although I have purposely spared you of any laborious crypto talk. So will be the last week in decentraland, I hope you enjoyed the ride.

And we’re easing out of it.

Today’s topic won’t be about decentralization specifically, but an extension of something we already know a lot about that could be considered decentralized: Uber.

Uber for Prop Planes

As I mentioned in previous weeks, Uber (and Lyft for that matter) has done a great job of decentralizing the taxicab industry. It’s now more convenient to find a ride, cheaper, more accessible in non-urban areas, and overall, less of a hassle.

Wouldn’t it be great if that existed for propeller/private planes?

I think so too.

I think there is a big opportunity for a platform to connect potential passengers directly to potential pilots who fly their own plane to reduce their cost with paying passengers and increase the convenience for the passengers.

How Would it Work?

The way I see it, there’s really two scenarios that this would work for. Both of which hinge on a pre-planned trip by the pilot and passengers hopping on if it works for them.

Scenario One

The first is for pilots who were already planning to travel with a plane they personally own. Instead of the passenger having control of the starting and final destination, have the pilot enter the starting and final destination for a trip they already had planned and see if any passengers would want to join.

The passengers could then see where the plane is going and hop on if their destinations are the same (or at least close enough).

Now instead of the pilot flying themselves and paying hundreds of dollars in fuel, they can charge each of the passengers a small fee and essentially fly to wherever they were going anyways for free.

Scenario Two

Dead legs.

Planes require maintenance at a much higher frequency than cars, most of which is preventative. Between 30-50% of all private flights fly empty, with nobody on board but the pilot(s). Scenario two revolves around private pilots entering where they are going for the maintenance, and once again seeing if any passengers want to tag along to the same destination.

The passengers could take advantage of the dead legs and the charter company could make a few extra bucks with no change to their flights schedule.

Is it actually that feasible?

Just like everything, there are pros and cons so let’s talk about em.

Some pros: more convenient than commercial, little to no TSA (this could also be a con), cheaper in some instances, flying is safer than driving, and this will access more of the regional airports.

Many more cons: you would need to achieve incredibly high adoption rates or this won’t work, the flights would be primarily one way, little to no TSA, prices would vary significantly and may not turn out to be any cheaper, and there’s a pilot shortage.

In my very professional opinion, I think the cons still outweigh the pros with the biggest hurdle being acquiring users, both the pilots and the passengers.

But in a perfect world, I could totally see this working if enough people are using it. The commercial airline industry is just another slow, and often delayed, industry that could be made much more convenient through a decentralized model.

Just like what Uber did to cabs.

People must think we live in a perfect world, because they’re trying it

Even with all those cons I listed, many people are still trying to accomplish this.

Blackbird launched their app called hitch and raised $10 million dollars. I downloaded their app, but there didn’t seem to be too many flights available, hence the adoption comment earlier.

FlyXO raised $8 million.

Flewber has raised $4.5 million.

And many other well-established companies like Uber, NetJets, and WheelsUp are starting to branch into this space.

This indicates that there is at least some demand, right?

So, am I an idiot, or was this a good idea? Not completely sure yet, only time will tell, but it does seem like a huge undertaking.

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Landing the Plane

If you check out this video from Uber Elevate, you’ll see a sky full of drone-looking helicopters. While this is very cool, I think we are a long, long ways from that. There would have to be changes in local laws, reconfigurations of airspace, and a lot more pilots. I mean there are barely enough pilots for the commercial industry, so I’m not sure how they plan on obtaining hundreds more for every major city.

Maybe a good retirement gig, idk.

I do think; however, that I would bet on Uber making this work than one of those other apps becoming a market disruptor. They already have the platform, they have millions of daily users, and money to back it.

When I sat down to think of big industries that could be decentralized, airlines are what came to mind. I think that change is coming, who knows how progressive it will be and whether it will be in our lifetime.

Alright, decentraland park is closed. I think next week I’m going to have AI write my newsletter so stay tuned for that.

‘Til Friday.

from, matt

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