Taking back the skies

Thinking of flying private? Verijet has a fresh new approach
by Leah Valentine
5-minute read

Imagine hailing a private jet in much the same way you can hail a car with a ride-sharing app.

Now, give that jet a small carbon footprint and next-level safety features. Make it quiet. Sanitize it between flights. Oh, and make it affordable.

That’s Richard Kane’s vision. And IBM is helping make it a reality.

Verijet private jet

Flights are selected from among

16

quintillion routing solutions

Searches take

200

milliseconds

With Verijet, someone searches for a private flight, and we can respond instantly and give them a price. Our AI has already checked that everything is safe and legal and available, and it’s a firm, fixed price. This capability opens private flying to the general public in a way that’s never been done before.
Richard Kane
Chairman and CEO, Verijet

The optimization engine

Richard Kane, Chairman and CEO of Verijet, began his career in the telecommunications industry, where he helped figure out how to route 100 million calls per hour in real time. He is also an accomplished pilot, holding seven world aviation speed records. Verijet is the natural result of combining his expertise in handling massive amounts of data with his passion for flying.

It has been 25 years since Kane first began thinking about making private aviation accessible to more people. Given the number of pilots, airplanes and airports involved in private flight, he knew it would be difficult. The first thing he would have to do was change the way customers found and booked private flights.

For years, booking a private flight meant calling a private booking agent, whose personnel would haggle with operators and pilots and levy substantial upcharges. “They would charge between 7% and 20% for this, it would take hours to get a confirmation that you could fly, and you would be paying all of these intermediates,” says Kane.

Verijet private jet in the air
Airport runway

So he set out to build an optimization engine that would do the work of a team of schedulers at the click of a button, thereby eliminating upcharges and making flights more affordable. He partnered with a private aviation company called JetBird, taking on its fleet as a starting point.

“We started out with 70 aircraft and about 1,000 customer bookings every 10 days,” says Kane. “For a carrier of that size, there can be 16 quintillion possible routing solutions. We have to figure out which plane gets which customer. And then which planes need maintenance, when. Which crew is going to fly each plane, how many hours the crew will have to sleep, how far their hotels are from the airport, how long their drive will be during traffic … The list goes on and on.”

Preparing for launch

At first, Kane tried to run his optimization engine solution on shared virtual machines with shared storage. “If you try to spin up a bunch of virtual machines, you lose minutes. I think it took four minutes for the thing to wake up and configure itself. We don’t have four minutes. We have 30 seconds. Our machines need to be running 24x7x365, and they need to be dedicated,” he says.

Kane’s search for alternatives led him to IBM Cloud® Bare Metal Servers, which delivered even more uptime and compute power than the optimization engine required. “With the IBM infrastructure,” he explains, “we can scale up and change nodes as though it’s a virtual machine, but it’s actually dedicated hardware.”

The switch to IBM also connected Kane with a team from the Startup with IBM program, which provides access to IBM’s security-rich and open hybrid cloud platform, along with unparalleled support and a developer ecosystem of technical architects and mentors. The program helped Kane build up the optimization engine and work toward the next phase of his plan: launching his own fleet of small, quiet, environmentally friendly, single-pilot airplanes called Vision Jets.

Inside Verijet private jet
Verijet engine

These futuristic vehicles offer innovative safety features such as the Cirrus Airplane Parachute System (CAPS) and the “Safe Return” button, which executes an emergency autopilot landing. Because these capabilities are so new, it took a few additional steps to get the Vision Jets approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“One of the tremendous benefits of working with IBM was that, not only did we get a 12-month ramp-up time, but it was another six months before we got the FAA to approve our operations,” says Kane. “IBM doubled down and gave us another six months, so we had 18 months to fine-tune the models, data mine our 44,000 flights and get ready for launch.”

He continues: “IBM gave us the chance to run in parallel and then experiment at a time when we couldn’t afford two parallel data centers. And we had personnel who I could ask for a new core or an upgrade, and it would just happen. The IBM team would just say, ‘OK, when do you want this?’ You have no idea how invaluable that is.”

A vision takes flight

Verijet private jet preparing for takeoff
Eight days after Verijet obtained FAA approval, the first passengers “Vjetted” from East Hampton, New York to Vero Beach, Florida. The plane was fully sanitized before takeoff and after landing — a key consideration during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its carbon footprint was one-ninth that of a midsized jet, and its passengers reported feeling extraordinarily safe the whole time.

As Kane’s customer base and his fleet of Vision Jets grow, his need for compute power is growing, too. To that end, he is in discussions with the IBM Quantum Computing team to continue his optimization work. “We’re trying to maximize the best use of our capacity,” Kane says. “I cannot overstate how complex this particular problem is. It’s ideally suited to quantum computing. I’m looking forward to the next three years of our partnership with IBM so we can just hit this out of the park.”

Verijet logo

About Verijet

Headquartered in Vero Beach, Florida, VerijetExternal Link is a new kind of airline. After years of developing a flight optimization engine for private carriers around the US, Verijet is now building up its own fleet of small, private planes with excellent safety and environmental ratings. After a successful launch in the southeastern US, Verijet plans to offer fast, affordable, point-to-point private flights to customers throughout the continental US.

Solution components
Verijet logo

About Verijet

Headquartered in Vero Beach, Florida, VerijetExternal Link is a new kind of airline. After years of developing a flight optimization engine for private carriers around the US, Verijet is now building up its own fleet of small, private planes with excellent safety and environmental ratings. After a successful launch in the southeastern US, Verijet plans to offer fast, affordable, point-to-point private flights to customers throughout the continental US.

Solution components