flying green

Texas company lines up hundreds electric-hybrid planes for takeoff

Behold the future JSX Aura Aero Era 19-seat hybrid-electric aircraft. Rendering courtesy of JSX

Hop-on jet service JSX is soaring into a more eco-friendly future with plans to acquire more than 300 hybrid-electric airplanes.

The Dallas-based air carrier revealed in a release that they'll add up to 332 small hybrid planes in 2028, allowing them to connect to smaller, underserved communities around the country.

"Following the Biden Administration’s call last week for the aviation industry to cut carbon emissions ... JSX expects to take delivery of its first hybrid-electric aircraft in 2028, shepherding the next chapter of regional aviation as the first in its category to adopt this impactful cutting-edge renewable energy technology," JSX says in the release. "While commercial airlines can serve just 480 airports in the United States, JSX’s small community-friendly Part 135 and Part 380 Public Charter operations, combined with the exceptional performance capabilities of these hybrid-electric airplanes, enables service opportunities to thousands of federally funded airports otherwise inaccessible to people who can’t own or charter an entire aircraft."

The new cutting-edge airplanes will come from manufacturers Electra, Aura Aero, and Heart Aerospace and will include:

  • up to 82 Electra eSTOL 9-seat aircraft (32 firm orders and 50 options)
  • up to 150 Aura Aero Era 19-seat planes (50 firm orders and 100 options)
  • up to 100 Heart Aerospace ES-30 30-seat planes (50 firm orders and 50 options)

JSX currently operates about 50 semi-private planes configured with 30 seats, from private terminals in major cities including Dallas (Love Field) and Houston (Hobby Airport), and in "leisure" markets such as Destin, Florida and the Bahamas. The company recently shifted part of its operational focus to small markets (such as Midland-Odessa).

JSX promises a "no crowds, no lines, and no fuss" travel experience, allowing customers to check in and "hop on" just 20 minutes before departure. The carrier recently came under fire from federal regulators and major commercial airlines for its looser security regulations that more closely resemble those of charter providers than those of domestic airlines.

JSX is now doubling down on its pledge to service underserved cities, declaring in the release, "JSX has mastered the trifecta of marketing, selling, and operating attainable by-the-seat public charter air service to numerous small communities that have no other regular air service."

The future Heart Aerospace ES-30 30-seat hybrid-electric aircraft in JSX livery. Rendering courtesy of JSX

The new smaller, electric-hybrid aircraft will allow JSX to "dramatically lower the cost of its service and open new flight options at over 2,000 U.S. airports," they say, "stimulating local economies and empowering regional mobility and connectivity for communities devoid of regular air service today."

They point specifically to Del Rio, Texas, which has lost all commercial air service since the pandemic, they say, as an example of a small city that now can be reconnected to major cities in a cost-effective, sustainable way.

"The favorable operating economics of the Aura Aero Era, Heart ES-30, and Electra eSTOL can create thousands of new and expanded air travel options across the United States without the need for government subsidy," the company says.

In a statement, JSX CEO and cofounder Alex Wilcox adds, "As the network airlines order ever-larger aircraft it is inevitable that more and more small markets will be abandoned. Electra, Aura Aero, and Heart Aerospace are visionary organizations that share in JSX’s commitment to serving smaller communities, working together with us to weave sustainable regional air travel back into the fabric of American commerce and freedom of movement.”

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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A View From HETI

IBM and Boxes recently partnered to integrate the IBM watsonx Assistant into Boxes devices, providing a way for consumer packaged brands to find out more than ever about what its customers like and want. Photo courtesy of Boxes

With the help of a new conversational artificial intelligence platform, a Houston startup is ready to let brands get up close and personal with consumers while minimizing waste.

IBM and Boxes recently partnered to integrate the IBM watsonx Assistant into Boxes devices, providing a way for consumer packaged brands to find out more than ever about what its customers like and want.

The Boxes device, about the size of a 40-inch television screen, dispenses products to consumers in a modern and sustainable spin on the old-fashioned large vending machine.

CEO Fernando Machin Gojdycz learned that business from his entrepreneur father, Carlos Daniel Machin, while growing up in Uruguay.

“That’s where my passion comes from — him,” Gojdycz says of his father. In 2016, Gojdycz founded Boxes in Uruguay with some engineer friends

Funded by a $2,000 grant from the University of Uruguay, the company's mission was “to democratize and economize affordable and sustainable shopping,” in part by eliminating wasteful single-use plastic packaging.

“I worked for one year from my bedroom,” he tells InnovationMap.

Fernando Machin Gojdycz founded Boxes in Uruguay before relocating the company to Greentown Houston. Photo courtesy of Boxes

The device, attached to a wall, offers free samples, or purchased products, in areas of high foot traffic, with a touch-screen interface. Powered by watsonx Assistant, the device asks survey questions of the customer, who can answer or not, on their mobile devices, via a QR code.

In return for completing a survey, customers can get a digital coupon, potentially generating future sales. The software and AI tech tracks sales and consumer preferences, giving valuable real-time market insight.

“This is very powerful,” he says.

Boxes partnered in Uruguay with major consumer brands like Kimberly-Clark, SC Johnson and Unilever, and during COVID, pivoted and offered PPE products. Then, with plans of an expansion into the United States, Boxes in 2021 landed its first U.S. backer, with $120,000 in funding from startup accelerator Techstars.

This led to a partnership with the Minnesota Twins, where Boxes devices at Target Field dispensed brand merchandise like keychains and bottles of field dirt.

Gojdycz says while a company in the Northeast is developing a product similar in size, Boxes is not “targeting traditional spaces.” Its software and integration with AI allows Boxes to seamlessly change the device screen and interface, remotely, as well.

Boxes aims to provide the devices in smaller spaces, like restrooms, where they have a device at the company's headquarters at climate tech incubator Greentown Labs. Boxes also recently added a device at Hewlett Packard Enterprise headquarters in Spring, as part of HPE’s diversity startup program.

Boxes hopes to launch another sustainable innovation later this year, in universities and supermarkets. The company is also developing a device that would offer refillable detergent and personal cleaning products like shampoo and conditioner with a reusable container.

Since plastic packaging accounts for 40 percent of retail price, consumers would pay far less, making a huge difference, particularly for lower-income families, he says.

“We are working to make things happen, because we have tried to pitch this idea,” he says.

Some supermarket retailers worry they may lose money or market share, and that shoppers may forget to bring the refill bottles with them to the store, for example.

“It’s about..the U.S. customer,” he says, “….but we think that sooner or later, it will come.”

Boxes has gotten funding from the accelerator startup branch of Houston-based software company Softeq, as well as Mission Driven Finance, Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund, and Right Side Capital, among others.

“Our primary challenges are scaling effectively with a small, yet compact team and maintaining control over our financial runway,” Gojdycz says.

The company has seven employees, including two on its management team.

Gojdycz says they are actively hiring, particularly in software and hardware engineering, but also in business development.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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