News: New Zealand firm Martin Aircraft Company has been given permission by the country's Civil Aviation Authority to conduct manned test flights on what it claims is the world's first practical jetpack.
Martin Aircraft Company has been developing the Martin Jetpack for several years and this ruling could help it meet its target of providing working 'first responder' jetpacks to the military and emergency services by mid-2014. Test flights will be restricted to a height of six metres and must be conducted above uninhabited ground.
Speaking to international news agency AFP about the announcement, Martin Jetpack CEO Peter Coker said: "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 commercialise and take forward very quickly."
The company's latest jetpack design, named the P12, has a lightweight carbon fibre body and is propelled by a gasoline engine driving twin ducted fans, enabling vertical takeoff and landing as well as sustained flight.
A remote-controlled prototype carrying a dummy pilot soared to a height of 1,500 metres in 2011, and the company say that "changing the position of the ducts has vastly improved the jetpack’s performance, especially its manoeuvrability."
Martin Aircraft Company hopes to release a commercial jetpack in 2015, with an estimated price of US$150,000-250,000 (£96,000-160,000).
Earlier this week, Elon Musk revealed the designs for a supersonic transport system comprising capsules propelled along a magnetic track by built in rotors. A Canadian company recently won a 33-year-old prize by building a human-powered helicopter, while a Massachusetts-based firm is working on a flying car capable of vertical takeoff.