Rapid COVID-19 Testing. Rapid testing will be key to making other passengers comfortable. Airlines will invest in rapid testing at check in to ensure all those onboard are tested prior to getting into the plane.
As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Harry Hedaya.
Harry Hedaya has been an entrepreneur for over 20 years. He owns and operates a handful of businesses in the following industries; staffing, financial services, small business marketing and communications. In his most recent role, Harry serves as the CEO of Send it By Text, a company dedicated to helping businesses efficiently communicate with leads and clients.
He has been through several economic cycles and calamities from the 2000 dot com bomb to COVID-19. He is a firm believer that the only constant is change. Harry’s areas of expertise are vision, software design, marketing, business process efficiencies, hiring, and leadership.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
As far as I can remember, I have always been fascinated with airplanes. As a kid, I used to build and fly radio control airplanes and gliders. As an adult, I went for my Private Pilot license as soon as I was able. After flying for almost thirty years, I am rated as an ATP (Airline Transport Pilot), the highest level of certification available.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I remember having a business meeting in New York City and the weather there was really bad. I decided to hire a more experienced captain, who was also a designated pilot examiner for the FAA, to see if I could learn a thing or two from him.
The control tower in Tampa was busy and cleared us into the runway, but asked us to stay put for a few minutes while they cleared a departure on the parallel runway.
After a minute or so they cleared us to take off. As we rolled down the runway, I noticed the plane was extremely slow to accelerate. We ended up using twice the normal amount of runway and finally broke free towards the end and started flying.
I looked over at the pilot and noticed he had failed to release the parking brake. He elected to continue to New York after I questioned him on whether or not we should land and examine any damage to the tires.
Upon landing in NYC, the right tire exploded and he managed to keep the plane on the runway somehow. We both walked away from the plane with minimal damage, aside from that to his ego.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I remember I was a bit over my head as a newly minted pilot when I first started flying airplanes with retractable landing gear. On my first flight, I decided to take my partner along for a business meeting in Santa Ana, California. We were flying from Van Nuys to the Santa Ana Airport across some of the busiest airspace in the country. We were discussing our meeting along the way and right before we landed my partner asked me why the airplane computer kept blurting out the words “Landing Gear! Landing Gear!” Luckily, I lowered the landing gear right before we touched down and my partner took a taxi home!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?
Try to always have a learning mindset and keep trying new things. The COVID pandemic has helped create an opportunity for pilots to seek other ratings and endorsements. For example, in 2020 I learned to fly tailwheel airplanes and also got my Multi-Engine Seaplane Rating. It’s amazing how these opportunities will make you a better pilot and remind you why you started doing this in the first place.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
In the early 90s, when I was learning how to fly, I remember being really frustrated by the pace at which I was coming along. The instructors I had were all relatively new pilots themselves and were more interested in checking boxes than making sure I was consistently proficient. One of my ex employees was an ex Air Force pilot and he took me under his wing. After months of intense training, he gave me the confidence to fly my family around.
He did so in a selfless manner that is common in the small, tight-knit aviation community. It was a real game changer to learn from a highly experienced pilot with thirty years of flying experience, rather than a 300 hour instructor right out of flight school.
Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Having the skills to fly to and from pretty much everywhere is a very special privilege. One of the most fulfilling things I do in aviation is fly sick and cancer patients to their appointments. It is very satisfying to know that you were instrumental in making another individual’s recovery a little easier and more convenient.
Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the Aviation and Air Travel industries?
One of the biggest disruptors entering aviation in the next ten years will be electrically powered flight; specifically personal aerial vehicles or ‘drones.’ Innovation and R&D resources dedicated to air travel will shift from moving the masses to moving individuals over shorter distances in a more cost-efficient manner. It will also provide a realistic alternative to commuting in traffic.
Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing these innovations?
These innovations will reduce time spent getting from point A to point B in densely populated areas as well as rural areas, where road infrastructure is not efficient.
How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?
With the confluence of low-latency, satellite-based, high-speed internet (STARLINK) and by giving people options to make air commutes via pilotless UAVs over relatively short distances (up to 100 miles), I feel people will no longer be tied to live in densely populated areas. This, in turn, will drive property and land values higher in more rural areas.
Are there exciting new technologies that are coming out in the next few years that will improve the Air Travel experience? We’d love to learn about what you have heard.
There are several exciting technologies merging in the marketplace today. Among them are electric powered airplanes, unmanned air taxis and small airplane autopilots that can lend themselves with the touch of a button if the pilot becomes incapacitated, like GARMIN Autonomi.
Technology will soon bring solutions to problems that will enhance quality of life by providing viable options to commuting in traffic, reduce carbon footprints and make flying small airplanes safer for passengers.
As you know, the Pandemic changed the world as we know it. For the benefit of our readers, can you help spell out a few examples of how the Pandemic has specifically impacted Air Travel?
The biggest impact to air travel that will likely linger long after the pandemic is over is the fact that businesses have forever changed how they do business. Business air travel will never be the same. Businesses, forced to use technology, like Zoom, will have a much harder time justifying flying executives for in person meetings in the future. Air travel will adapt to cater to personal air travel which will be a huge win for consumers with more point to point options becoming available over time.
Can you share five examples of how the Air Travel experience might change over the next few years to address the new realities brought by the Pandemic? If you can, please give an example for each.
1. Evolving Personal Air Taxi Technology. Prior to the pandemic, there were a host of new pilotless air taxi vehicles under development. The pandemic will surely accelerate their rise and speed to market.
2. Electric Airplanes. With renewed focus on global warming and mandates by governments to shift from fossil fuel to clean burning energy, a host of electric powered airplanes will emerge to satisfy short-haul, low-density commuter routes.
3. Private Aviation Will Become More Common. Consumers with the means to fly private will do so more than before because the premium to do so will be easier to justify due to the pandemic. This trend is already unfolding. Wheels up just went public and private aviation as a whole is growing at record levels.
4. The Demise of the Hub and Spoke Routing of the Major Airlines. We all know Delta has a base in Atlanta, United in Houston, American in Dallas and Miami, but if given the choice of a direct flight, consumers will avoid the hub and spoke models of the legacy carriers, making their businesses tougher and tougher to justify.
5. Rapid COVID-19 Testing. Rapid testing will be key to making other passengers comfortable. Airlines will invest in rapid testing at check in to ensure all those onboard are tested prior to getting into the plane.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I would push industry to develop clean burning propulsion systems to reduce reliance on fossil fuels by giving incentives for research and development to smaller companies and individuals in the form of grants, subsidies and tax credits. Weaning off fossil fuels would be the greatest source of good that aviation can bring to the most people possible.