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Personal jetpack gets Civil Aviation Authority approval

Published: 4:02PM Tuesday August 13, 2013 Source: ONE News

You could buy your own personal jetpack from a New Zealand company in just under a year.

The New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has given its official go ahead for manned flights of the twelfth prototype by Christchurch based Martin Aircraft Company.

The CAA said the Martin Jetpack prototype was issued with an Experimental Flight Permit on May 10 for development test flying.

"The test flying was subject to strict limitations covering required safety procedures," the CAA said.

"Other restrictions included that it may not be flown more than 20 feet above the ground or 25 feet above water, and is limited to two specific test flight areas over uninhabited land."

Chief Executive Peter Coker confirmed to ONE News that indoor testing has started and he hoped to head outdoors with a human pilot before the end of the year.

The company is currently working on further upgrades to the engine that propels the new P12 jetpack prototype.

The aircraft is expected to sell for around $150,000 when it finally goes on the market around July next year if everything goes according to plan.

Pilot James Bowker said there were mixed emotions during his first flight in the jetpack.

"Mixture of scary and just awesome," he said.

"Flying remotely you can see the aircraft and so you can see everything that happens but when you're actually in it, it's all behind you and you just get lifted off the ground. It's just awesome."

Mr Bowker said there is still a little bit more work to do before the jetpack is ready to be sold.

However, there has already been tremendous interest in the jetpack from New Zealand and overseas, said Mr Croker.

"Our initial approach is to actually sell these to first responded types with Government agencies around search and rescue and things like the fire service," he said.

"There are a number of countries that have shown interest both from the Asia region and the Middle East region."

Mr Coker said final negotiations were underway with one Middle Eastern country and that two other Asian countries have shown great interest.

"In addition to that we also have interest from other parts of Europe and particularly China as well," he said.

The company is also not short of private interest.

"We've had over 10, 000 people who have actually enquired as to where they might actually be able to purchase these in future so I think there's going to be a great demand," Mr Coker said.

"We call it in a motorbike in the sky. So people who have snow mobiles or motorbikes or something like microlights, these are the sorts of people who would really enjoy having a jetpack in the future on an individual basis."

Glenn Martin, the Martin Jetpack inventor, said CAA approval had been extremely important internationally.

"Whenever we are talking overseas to potential customers they say what is New Zealand Civil Aviation doing," he said.

"Now we can show them a certificate and a sign off. It was really beneficial for our marketing."

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