Born: United States of America
Primarily active in: United States of America

From Leadership Profile: Vertiflite September/October 2019

Kaydon Stanzione, Chief Executive Officer, Jaunt Air Mobility LLC

Kaydon Stanzione sees urban air mobility (UAM) through the eyes of a businessman long schooled in technology ventures. He said, “What I learned was I could have the best technology ‘widget,’ but if I couldn’t integrate it into a client’s operational processes and support it at an affordable price, I could have the best invention in the world and the business would fail.” Stanzione launched Jaunt Air Mobility LLC in Sewell, New Jersey, last year after careful study of the slowed-rotor/compound (SR/C) technology previously flown by Carter Aviation Technology.

Jaunt completed acquisition of Carter’s technology this year and is now teaming with specialists, investors and industry partners who will build, operate and support the all-electric gyroplane air taxi. “Jaunt from Day One is examining all potential areas of business that touch the air vehicle,” explained Stanzione. “Our goal has been to reduce the risk in two areas: technology is one; operations is the other. It’s important that we minimize risk but also maximize the probability of ROI [return on investment]. To do that, we have to have investments through the entire air vehicle value chain.”

Stanzione’s startup aims to integrate SR/C technology with distributed electric propulsion (DEP), fly-by-wire (FBW) flight controls and autonomy. The entrepreneur explained, “For Jaunt, we felt it was important to lay out our business model to talk to players who could not only provide the technologies but who could make the investments to mature the technologies at a more rapid rate. We work with Honeywell, with PRICE Systems, with Triumph. It’s very important for us to have a relationship with these companies who can get us there. Our belief at Jaunt is this is truly a systems-integrated aircraft at a high level.” Stanzione added, “Speaking with launch operators, we’re talking to large fleet service providers to make sure we can provide an aircraft that can be serviced properly, quickly, efficiently.”

Stanzione’s own relationship with vertical flight stretches back to the early days of the V-22 tiltrotor at Boeing in Philadelphia. As a young engineer, he made presentations for Boeing Vertol president Joe Mallon. “I coined a statement that Mallon loved and used: ‘What we were doing was going to make the transportation of people and goods better, faster and cheaper.’ That was looking at advanced VTOL aircraft back in the day. Today with Jaunt, I’m doing the same thing, except paint an ‘e’ in front of that VTOL. It’s ‘electric VTOL.’ If you look at the corporate experience skill set that Jaunt is building, by positions or partnerships, they will enable Jaunt to move people and goods faster and better than our competition.”

Flying Start
Kaydon Stanzione grew up on the move with his career military parents but settled near Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, when US Army Master Sargent Dominic Stanzione and US Air Force Chief Master Sargent Katherine Stanzione retired from the service. He recalled, “My dad spent a lot of time in the Orient in his military days, and he learned to build very complex and large kites — kites that could lift hundreds of pounds. He would fly them on a combination of parachute rope and steel leaders. He would also strap me to a body harness tied to a kite tethered to his 1964 Corvair and lift me into the air. I probably got as high as 40–50 ft [12–15 m] before my mom came out with a broom and took swings at my pop. That’s how I got introduced to the aerospace industry.”

Studies at Syracuse University with dual majors in mechanical and aerospace engineering included flight training with the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. However, graduation in 1974 held little promise of flying. “It was the end of the Vietnam war and probably the worst time to ever think about a military career,” said Stanzione. “My dream was to fly the F-15, but the Air Force offered me the option to breach the agreement but not pay back my college education, and I got my flight training.”

A master’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Rutgers University in New Jersey forced Stanzione to balance his entrepreneurial spirit with an engineering job. “I actually started an automotive business,” he recalled. “I was chopping up frames of Corvettes and other cars and building these street racers — Rat Rods — but my first aerospace job was with Boeing Vertol. I was very fortunate. At that time, Boeing and Bell were doing pre-V-22 studies, analyzing data from the XV-15 and back from XV-3 days, and from the X-22 quad ducted-prop. I really got thrown in with some wonderful people — John Schneider, Al Shane and Hal Rosenstein. I just got to work with those three gentlemen on the design of aircraft. I think without that particular start I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Stanzione left Boeing to teach rotorcraft design at the University of Maryland and worked with rotorcraft experts at UMD, Penn State and Georgia Tech. “I got to be a part of helping those three universities write the proposals and eventually get stood up as Rotorcraft Centers of Excellence.” Subsequent work for the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) focused on fixed-wing vertical and/or short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) and short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) concepts. “I got to work for two decades providing technical evaluations on many military programs.”

Analytical experience led Stanzione to start Praxis Technologies. “I became very fascinated with the whole logistics chain, the inventory, the supply, the depot-level repair, three- and two-tiered maintenance programs. It made sense to apply that to failure modes and criticality analyses. We actually built semi-automated solution sets, which were integrated with the CAD [computer aided design] models of the aircraft, and we built a significant business. We did the full FMECA [failure mode, effects and criticality analysis] for the V-22. Eventually, after doing that for several years, Boeing did an asset acquisition of a major part of Praxis Technologies.”

Praxis continued developing analytic tools. Stanzione explained, “It wasn’t just a problem we saw in integrated logistics; it was intermodal. One of the major problems was in communications between vehicles in which people and goods traveled. You had different radios working at different frequencies, and they didn’t talk to each other. I saw two paths, one intermodal communications, and the other intermodal transportation.”

The communications challenge led to the Alert Notification and Incident Command System (ANICS) adopted by the US Department of Homeland Security, US Federal Emergency Management Agency and US Coast Guard. “We implemented the voice, data, video system with the Coast Guard in May 2005 right before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We ended up being the command and control system for DHS and the US Coast Guard.”

Intermodal transportation requirements led to the Orion freight management system approved by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and marketed today by Praxis. Stanzione said, “Over the years, I built an integrated model. That model manages several million pounds of freight per day all over North America.” He concluded, “I characterize myself as a systems, business and operations integrator.”

Personal Transport
Lessons with the first production tiltrotor and other military systems are relevant to the Jaunt venture. “I got to work on the V-22,” noted Stanzione. “Years later at IDA, I got to evaluate the cost and operational effectiveness of the V-22 program. The V-22 successfully met all its operational evaluation parameters — mission speed, payload, whatever. But the problem was back in the day, the V-22 was severely challenged in things like reliability, availability, maintainability, supportability. It was a black mark on the V-22 at a time when the technology was great.”

Breakthrough technologies now promise UAM. According to Stanzione, “Urban air mobility is a new moniker put to an old idea of efficient, personal transportation. I think what Mark Moore and the team at Uber have done is a great job of illustrating that there’s an application in terms of alleviating land gridlock. Distributed electric propulsion, the advent of drone technologies, the faster computers, better flight controls, it started to become evident that we might just be able to get to the point where we can pop up and fly over traffic.”

The SR/C air vehicle uses a simple rotor for vertical takeoff and transfers load to its fixed-wing as forward speed increases. At high cruise speed, the rotor slows to nearly eliminate rotational drag. Stanzione recalled, “In 2005, I was asked by the Department of Defense to evaluate what Carter was doing with the slowed rotor. They’d done a great job, but the company didn’t have the technology readiness level or the manufacturing readiness level applicable to a quick turnaround for a military role. In terms of what it did as an aircraft, its capabilities, I found that to be very, very favorable.”

More than a decade later, SR/C technology remained ignored by major aerospace players, and Stanzione took another look after seeing Carter’s display at Forum 74. “In 2018, I looked at key performance indicators, and said, ‘What are some of the key pieces this slowed rotor compound technology would need to overcome to become a viable contender for UAM?’ It had to be extremely quiet. It had to be safe. It had to be very appealing. It had to have wonderful ride quality, and it had to be “mere-familiar” — when someone was going to buy a ticket on the aircraft, it had to make sense to them that the aircraft was flightworthy and something they could understand.”

Stanzione and associates identified key performance indicators for UAM. “We did a deep dive and made a strong ‘Go’ decision in 2018, saying this aircraft meets a lot of the Uber requirements, as well as the global UAM requirements, and some of my personal business and operational requirements.” Jaunt revealed itself and its concept in January 2019 at the VFS Electric VTOL Symposium.

UAM enabling technologies still have to be certified, acknowledged the Jaunt CEO. “We all recognize that those are critical technologies, and their maturity needs to be rapidly accelerated. For us in Jaunt, that means there’s got to be some serious investment of resources to accelerate the maturity level of those components, so they can be at a level of reliability for certification and for safety. These aircraft have to be ultra-safe because they’re going to be flying over urban areas.” The Jaunt team also includes cost analysts PRICE Systems. “It’s very important to us, because we’re shaving pennies, that we have very accurate cost models while being better able to support ROI.”

Jaunt and competitors face common challenges. “The immaturity of some of the technologies — FBW, electrification, batteries, reliability, cost estimating — those are configuration-agnostic,” said Stanzione. “The biggest concern all of us in this industry are facing is certification. Certification could bring the dollar cost up extensively. It could delay production. It could prevent an aircraft from even getting to production.” Stanzione concluded, “I know many of the engineers and scientists working on UAM, and I honestly believe UAM will succeed. We will get there.”

Kaydon Stanzione first joined what was the American Helicopter Society in graduate school and went on to hold critical positions in the Society, including serving on the Board of Directors as the Vice President for Membership. “I was very fortunate in the early days of AHS to work very closely with John Zugschwert, and then Rhett Flater. It’s just a great organization doing some wonderful things for all of us building an aircraft. It’s really a wonderful time to be part of this VTOL community.”