In a scene right out of The Jetsons, New Zealand authorities have issued an experimental flight permit to the Martin Aircraft Company to test its pilot-controlled jetpack, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The approval of the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority is one more step in the company’s plan to bring a commercial jetpack to market by next year.
“For us, it’s a very important step because it moves it out of what I call a dream into something which I believe we’re now in a position to commercialize and take forward very quickly,” said Peter Coker, Martin Aircraft CEO.
So far, the prototype testing has mostly used dummies and remote controls. The recent approval from New Zealand authorities means the company can start conducting manned tests.
image via gizmag
The jetpack consists of a purpose-built, 200-horsepower gasoline engine driving twin ducted fans, which produce sufficient thrust to lift the aircraft and a pilot in vertical takeoff and landing, and enable sustained flight. Safety features for the pilot include a ballistic parachute and a crumple undercarriage.
The company has been working on the jetpack since 2004, building 12 prototypes so far. The latest design reportedly can fly as high as 8,000 feet and achieve 35 miles per hour. When it comes to market, the commercial jetpack is intended to help first responders and firefighters.
Martin expects the commercial version will be available for government and emergency agencies next year, with a personal version rolled out in 2015. The commercial jetpacks will likely cost between $150,000 and $175,000, with a military version running around $250,000. A simpler version for consumers would likely run around $100,000.
Edited by Ryan Sartor