By Mark Phelps

Dallas-area Part 135 operator JSX announced yesterday (Dec. 19) it has signed letters of intent (LOIs) to acquire up to 330 hybrid-electric aircraft from three separate manufacturers. The agreements are for 32 nine-seat aircraft from U.S-based Electra (with options for 50 more), 50 30-seat ES-30s from Heart Aerospace of Sweden (with options for 50 more), and 50 19-seaters from France’s Auro Aero (with options for 100 more). The first of the new aircraft are scheduled to enter service in 2028. Purchase prices were not disclosed, nor were financial terms of the LOIs.

Founded by executive Alex Wilcox in 2016, JSX self-describes as providing “a ’hop-on’ public charter service that’s faster on the ground, more comfortable in the air and competitively priced.” JSX says its “semi-private” flights have operated without incident since the company was founded and its “safety and security technologies and programs exceed both FAA and TSA requirements for Part 135 operators.”

JSX operates Embraer ERJ-135s and ERJ-145s from non-airline terminals and FBOs and promotes itself as providing air service to up to 2,000 airports serving communities that have been ignored or abandoned by conventional airlines.

Though its investors include both JetBlue and United Airlines, JSX has drawn criticism from some Part 121 airlines and pilot unions, which assert the company is using regulatory loopholes to gain a financial advantage. By operating under less strenuous regulations, under what it describes as “small community-friendly Part 135 and Part 380 Public Charter operations,” JSX can legally employ pilots who do not meet the current 1,500-hour minimum experience requirement. JSX is also less constrained by duty-time rules, weather and operational limitations and maintenance requirements. (JSX, however, says its first officers average 3,300 hours and captains average more than 8,000 hours.)

JSX counters also those assertions by noting its unblemished safety record and enthusiastic response from happy customers.

JetBlue joined Southwest Airlines in supporting the FAA in working to tighten the regulatory “loopholes” that enable JSX and others to bypass some Part 121-level safety and security requirements. Southwest said in a statement: “Our expectation is that the federal government holds an operator that advertises, sells tickets, and interacts with passengers like a Part 121 commercial airline to the same high standards for safety and security that all other scheduled passenger airlines are required to meet.”