Since the last update from a few weeks ago, I’ve made even more progress in my overall expansion plans. I did go ahead and purchase the Boeing 747-400 for heavier and longer cargo operations. In doing this, I also decided to sell off all the King Air aircraft. I was able to keep all the current pilots, train them onto different aircraft between the remaining Connie’s, B738’s and B757’s. The fleet now consists of three Connie’s, four 738’s, two 757’s and the one 744. I keep the Connie’s based at KAPA along with two B738’s. The remaining two B738’s, two B757’s and the Queen are based at KDEN. While technically the runway at KAPA is long enough for the B744 to land (based on Air Hauler 2 specifications), living just about 5 miles and on the approach path of the 17’s, I would be surprised if I ever were to see a 747 going into KAPA. Of course I would also be just as surprised to witness a 737 landing there as well. But sometimes reality just needs to give way to imagination.
I opened a new base at KDEN and eventually closed the base and factory at Colorado Springs KCOS. While I believe the long-range plan will certainly support additional bases, I want to just focus on two at this time. Keeping KAPA and KDEN made more sense than KDEN/KCOS. With the factory operations I need to move materials between the two factories. While I can do that via my own aircraft, I find just contracting this function to ground transportation is my better option. The KAPA/KDEN combination has saved money in these ground transport fees and also shortened the amount of time it takes to move materials between the two factories as well. The combined factories work to produce materials to make cell phones. The current production rate of cell phones is 2000 per day which brings in approx. 1 million per day.
Financially speaking, with the current setup the monthly overhead is just under 30 million dollars. This includes the rent at both KAPA and KDEN along with the lease and insurance payments for our fleet of ten aircraft and salaries of our twenty pilots. We currently have 65 million in the bank with no outstanding debt.
I think the next step I would like to take is to replace the slower Connie’s with B738’s. The Connie’s have certainly been useful, but their speed and cargo capabilities are somewhat limiting. The 738 can still fly into smaller airports, but transport twice as much cargo in much less time. After all…time is money! Of course, I want to take the same approach as I did with replacing the King Air’s and that is to train those current Connie pilots up to the B738 which will take some time.
Not Bored Yet
As I mentioned in a previous update, I’m playing this in the role of CEO and not actually flying the routes myself (as is possible). I’m about 45 days in and still enjoying the strategy of it all. I’m sure at some point I will grow bored with it. Unfortunately Air Hauler 2 doesn’t have a pause feature. As an example, if I simply stop playing for a month or two and then relaunch the application, I will most likely find my cargo company bankrupt as the monthly lease, rent and salary payments will continue to be paid out. To prevent this from happening I would need to essentially sell off any assets, turn in any leased aircraft, fire pilots and close down bases/factories. But for now, I still enjoy spending an hour or so each day just planning out flights and ensuring enough revenue is coming in to keep the forward momentum going.
Thanks for reading.
Until next time…
Happy Cargo Hauling!!!
A few weeks ago I posted about my progress of running Air Hauler 2 in a standalone environment where I was just acting as CEO and directing my AI Pilots here and there hauling cargo from our two Colorado hubs. Since that time, I’ve managed to both grow and also somewhat consolidate the business into a more revenue generating and efficient operating machine.
In the early stages of getting the business off the ground (pun intended), the need for smaller, single pilot aircraft was very much needed and heavily utilized. As the business grew, I began to realize that these smaller aircraft were actually holding me back from the higher paying jobs. While it’s possible to just schedule a King Air and one pilot to fly back and forth between airports until they’ve managed to move all the cargo. This method is also not efficient. So I decided to make a few adjustments to the fleet.
After having experienced my own layoff earlier this summer from a company I had spent the past 22 years fully dedicated to, I didn’t want this change of business model to impact any of my hired AI. So I set about a plan to train pilots up to the next level of aircraft. But this isn’t as straightforward as one might think. In the perfect world I had hoped I could simply train two of my King Air pilots up to the Boeing 737 and eliminate two King Air aircraft and keep one. But I found one was qualified and one was not. So I took a step back and re-evaluated my staff and operations.
After this re-evaluation effort, I decided I would sell off all three King Air aircraft from the fleet. Of the three pilots impacted by this decision, one would be trained up to the 737 and the other two would be trained up to the Connie. Two of the existing Connie pilots would then undergo training for the 737. Once their training was complete, I would hire a brand new pilot already qualified on the 737. So in reality, this plan is growing our cargo hauling capacity, but also eliminating three aircraft from the fleet. I then leased two Boeing 737-800 aircraft configured for cargo operations.
Even More Growth Opportunities
The shuffling efforts mentioned above, still left me with over $28 million in the bank and only a monthly overhead of $16.9 million. The decision was made to further expand the fleet with another Boeing 757 and the hiring of two additional qualified pilots for that aircraft type. As it stands today, my fleet of cargo aircraft consists of three Connie’s, four 737-800’s and two 757-200’s.
Looking ahead, the future is bright for GrizzlyBear Cargo. It will be necessary to operate in the current setup for sometime. However, the next logical step will be to introduce an even larger aircraft to the fleet which will greatly extend both the range as well as the cargo hauling capabilities for us. Most likely this will be a Boeing 747. But with that plan in mind, it will probably be necessary to also look to a bigger home base airport. KAPA (Centennial Airport) is my current main base. The runways at KAPA can accommodate our existing fleet, but not a 747. While the secondary base at KCOS (Colorado Springs) can accommodate the 744, most likely we will move our main base (HQ) to KDEN and decide on either keeping KAPA or KCOS as secondary. Time will tell….
I’ll check back in and provide an update in a few weeks. By then I should have made the decision on the new HQ and other operations.
Until next time…
Happy Cargo Hauling!
I purchased Air Hauler 2 a year or two ago when it was in early beta for P3D. I played around with it, but during those early days the application wouldn’t function in a networked environment. So the only time I really could use it was when I was physically in my man-cave and using my main gaming PC. Really at that time my main interest in Air Hauler 2 was in running my own cargo airline empire using AI pilots to do all the work.
At some point between the early release and the present time, the developers of Air Hauler 2 made the application capable of running in a network environment. Meaning, I can run Air Hauler 2 and no longer need to have my main gaming PC running, or at least running all the time. This also means that while I don’t have a lot of time to game at the present moment, I can schedule out the flights in the morning over my first coffee and check their progress throughout the day and afternoon.
As previously mentioned, I installed Air Hauler 2 on my laptop. I needed to connect it the first time via across my network just to sync P3D. This is required so you can import the aircraft options you have installed. But this step really is only needed to be done once or in the future if you install additional aircraft into the sim.
The Initial Strategy
As previously stated, I have no desire to use Air Hauler 2 to track my flights and in my cargo airline I’m fulfilling the role of CEO and not a pilot. I started out in “Medium” mode. This gave me $500,000, 50% reputation and a Cessna Caravan which I immediately sold. I took out a bank loan which allowed me to purchase two aircraft with one being a King Air 350 and the second the larger L049A Constellation. I hired three pilots and established my cargo base of operations at Centennial Airport KAPA. I chose KAPA over the larger Denver International as KAPA offered cheaper landing fees and after all, I’m a small cargo airline.
The initial grind was challenging, but fun. I managed to keep the two planes and three pilots busy enough to accumulate a little extra cash. I then leased another King Air and a second Constellation. I set a goal of paying back the bank loan before adding anything additional to the fleet.
Another few days of the grind, I managed to pay back the bank loan and lease a Boeing 737-800 setup for cargo and hired another two pilots with certifications capable of flying the B738. The money was now rolling in hand over fist.
I setup my first factory at KAPA so I could manufacture cell phones, memory sticks and televisions. I didn’t realize at the time I would also need to manufacture plastics and battery packs. So I had a bit of a delay and had to save enough money to open a second base (Colorado Springs KCOS) where I could take chemicals and produce plastics and batteries to produce battery packs. Once this was setup, I was set to get rolling in my factory operations.
Initially I was moving the completed plastics and battery packs via my own aircraft. But soon started paying for ground transportation between KAPA and KCOS. The cost is minimal and allows my aircraft to do what they do best and that is haul cargo for paying customers.
As It Stands Today
Today, I’ve grown my little operation to a total of 15 pilots and 9 aircraft with a total of 3 King Air 350’s, 3 L049A Constellation’s, 2 Boeing 737-800’s and 1 Boeing 757-200 with two bases and two factories. The total cost for aircraft leases, insurances and base costs approx. $10.7 million and I currently have just over $15.0 million in the bank with no outstanding loans. My next payment for aircraft leases, insurance etc. is due in about two weeks. So the goal for now is to grind out more cargo runs, keep the factories running and producing approx. $1 million every 24 hours. Depending on how hard I work my pilots, the cargo operation brings in approx. $1.5 – $2 million per day. Again, it really just depends on how much I play.
Once this next $10.7 million payment is made, will see about leasing another 757-200. This may or may not replace one of the existing “Connie” aircraft in the fleet or perhaps be yet another addition. I do plan to continue to grow the small cargo airline into something much larger with the addition of a Boeing 777 Freighter and the Queen of the Skies the Boeing 747-800. But we first need to continue crawling before we can run the marathon.
I’ll check back in with you sometime after the new year and provide a progress update. At the present time, I’m finding that leasing aircraft is far better than purchasing. After all, most real world airlines lease versus buy for much the same reason.
Air Hauler 2 is available for Prepar3d, XPlane and now MSFS2020.
Until next time…
Happy Cargo Hauling….