Pilot starts service with propeller-driven airplane

Pilot starts service with propeller-driven airplane

March 26th, 2011 in Business Around the Region

• Name: HessJet

• Location: 6835 Brentwood Drive, Ooltewah

• Owner: Terry Hess, 36, a former captain on an Airbus 320 jet who logged more than 7,000 hours flying with United Express, Comair and other commercial carriers

• Products/services: HessJet is a regional air charter service based at the Collegedale airport. "We offer a good alternative to the hassles of flying commercial and increase the productivity of those flying with us by providing a more flexible schedule and more direct flights. Most times, up to three people can fly with us back and forth to their destination in a single day and avoid the need to stay overnight." HessJet is capable of serving about 3,000 airports. Hess also offers flight training, aircraft maintenance and aerial photography services.

• Aircraft: Cirrus SR22 propeller plane capable of carrying three passengers at 200 mph up to 1,000 miles away

• Costs: Most flights are priced from $1,200 to $1,500 in the Southeast. HessJet offers $988 for a round-trip to Memphis for up to three passengers.

• Website: www.hessjet.com

• Founded: August 2010

• Startup investment: About $500,000. Initial goal was 35 hours of flying a month in the first year, but Hess said he is doing nearly twice that volume.

• Target market: Business and leisure travelers looking for faster air travel aboard a four-passenger plane capable of direct and flexible-timed flights throughout the Southeast.

• Biggest hurdles: Gaining regulatory approval for the new business while flying as a contractor overseas in India. Higher fuel prices also are becoming a challenge.

• Biggest reward: Helping business owners cut their time and costs of travel and helping families and elderly travelers enjoy easier air commutes. "The clients we've worked with have been very happy with what we do and fortunately they keep coming back," Hess said.

• Five-year-goal: Hess said he would like to add more aircraft, perhaps eventually a jet as he originally envisioned with his company name.