Listed as one of Time Magazines’ top 50 inventions for 2010, the Martin Jetpack is the world’s first practical jetpack. Twin ducted fans driven by a V4 gasoline engine that produces enough thrust for a vertical takeoff and landing. The Martin Jetpack can fly up to 30 minutes at speeds as fast as 60 mph. The company is planning on a $100,000 price tag but that could eventually drop as they produce more. The jetpack is creating a new market segment that never existed before. Safety features such as a rapid deploying parachute, roll cage structure and a shock absorbing undercarriage have been incorporated into the design.
The company claims that they had only the leisure market in mind when they first started the project but commercial demand for the product was seen in areas such as defense, emergency response, and other sectors. Currently, two versions of the jetpack are in final stages of development, for manned and unmanned (UAV) flight.
The Martin Jetpack brings man the closest to being a bird. In the 1950s, attempts to build a jetpack lead to the “Bell Rocket Belt.” After 50 years of development the device could only fly for 30 seconds, used a very dangerous fuel and was difficult to pilot. It was not the practical jetpack the world was waiting for.
In 2008, the Martin Jetpack was unveiled and became a media sensation. However, further research and development had to be done to meet the needs of the defense and commercial industries. With 2500 test-flights adding to over 100 combined engine hours, the Martin Jetpack proves its capability.
The company has already signed a country-specific joint venture for the delivery of more than 500 Martin Jetpacks a year for emergency response. Other uses include tourism, air mobile surveillance, counter terrorism, border patrol, medic delivery, search & rescue, and jumping the rush hour traffic on the way to work in the morning.
Although there are barriers to jetpacks replacing cars today, we might see it happen in the near future. The FAA Highways in the Sky project is providing flight paths for jetpacks as well. For now, the Martin Jetpack is allowed to operate as a recreational vehicle in non-urban airspace.
The Martin Jetpack falls under the ultralight/microlight category (FAA Part 103). This means the jetpack does not have to be FAA certified and the pilot does not have to be licensed. An “ultralight” must weigh less than 254 lbs, carry one occupant, and have a fuel tank with a capacity of 5 gallons maximum. There are also restrictions on top speed and stall speed to make sure it is used only for recreation. Although FAA Part 103 removes a massive barrier to ownership, it is not advisable for amateurs to strap themselves and take off. The Martin Aircraft Company ensures that owners pass their approved training program before flying the jetpack, even if one flirts a pilot’s license. The uniqueness of the product required specialized training being offered by the company to ensure the safety of their customers.
Although the Martin Jetpack is great news for aviation lovers, it is important for the FAA and similar organizations to make room in the sky for the safe operation of vehicles like the jetpack. With the rising number of UAVs hovering around the last thing anyone wants to read in the newspaper is “UAV CRASHES INTO MAN WITH JETPACK.”
For more information:
Source: Martin Aircraft Company