Martin Jetpack Approved For Manned Testing

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The Martin Aircraft Company says it's on track to begin deliveries of a first responder version of its personal air vehicle that it calls the Martin Jetpack now that the New Zealand government has approved manned testing of the aircraft. The government will allow Martin test pilots to fly the twin-ducted fan device up to 20 feet above ground and 25 feet above water at first and then expand the flight envelope as the concept proves itself.  The company has been limited to testing the device unmanned but it has flown as high as 5,000 feet with an appropriately weighted dummy. The aircraft has been redesigned and bears only scant resemblance to the prototype that was pulled around Aeroshell Square by two spotters at AirVenture Oshkosh in 2008.

CEO Peter Coker, who joined the company from the New Zealand division of Lockheed Martin last April, said the new machine is a lot better than the original. “Changing the position of the jetpack’s ducts has resulted in a quantum leap in performance over the previous prototype, especially in terms of the aircraft’s maneuverability,” Coker told the National Business Review. Plans are to develop and sell a $250,000 paramilitary version and heavy-lift unmanned model first and follow with a $150,000 recreational jetpack. The company is going public this year to raise the money to start production and if sales meet expectations a factory will be built in China.