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Fri, Mar 15, 2019

Aviation Rideshare Start-Up Raises $10 Million In Venture Capital

BlackBird Hopes To Succeed Where Other Such Ideas Have Failed

A new General Aviation ridesharing service has raised $10 million in venture capital, hoping to succeed where other such efforts have been squashed by the FAA.

The company is called BlackBird. In a blog post dated March 12, the company says that it has raised $10 million in its Series A round from New Enterprise Associates (NEA). Jonathan Golden, the lead investor for NEA, helped launch Airbnb, and will join BlackBird's Board of Directors, according to the post.

BlackBird says it has added employees and signed up "hundreds of planes and pilots" on its online platform. The difference between BlackBird and other attempts at airplane-based ridesharing appears to be that BlackBird only uses pilots with commercial ratings to operate its flights. In the past, companies like AirPooler and Flytenow hae been shut down by the FAA, which said they were too much like commercial airlines, and needed to operate under the same rules. Flytenow even took their case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear it.

According to the BlackBird website, travelers can "simply hop on a flight that’s already going, with seats starting as low as $50. For a more customized experience, BlackBird makes it easy to create a flight, giving you control to choose everything from the route, time, aircraft and pilot."

Additionally, commercial pilots who sign up with the service make some money when they carry a BlackBird passenger, and airplane owners can enter into agreements with BlackBird to allow the use of their airplanes when they might otherwise be idle, "making airplane ownership more affordable," the website says.

The FAA has not yet weighed in on this new twist on the time-honored practice of bumming a ride at the airport and pitching in some money for gas. But it's a sure bet that it's on the agency's radar, and we'll be hearing about it soon.

(Image from file)

FMI: www.flyblackbird.com


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