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Redesigned Martin Jetpack deliveries expected to start in 2014

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September 28, 2013

Martin Aircraft's  will start deliveries of its new P12 Jetpack prototype in 2014 (Photo: ...

Martin Aircraft's will start deliveries of its new P12 Jetpack prototype in 2014 (Photo: Martin Aircraft)

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The Martin Jetpack being developed by Martin Aircraft Company in New Zealand has undergone a major design overhaul. Reemerging as the P12 prototype, the ducted-fan personal VTOL is fully certified for manned test flights as a Class 1 microlight. The first commercial sales, now expected in mid-2014, will be for first responder applications, such as rescue, fire, and police missions. According to the company, sales to individuals will follow shortly after the initial models are vetted in field use.

Glenn Martin, founder of the Martin Aircraft Company, has been actively developing the Martin Jetpack for over 30 years and the P12, as the name suggests, is the 12th prototype. Initially working at night in the family garage on a budget of NZ$20 per month, the first serious attempts to bring the Jetback to market began in 2010. With the unveiling of the P12 it seems Martin's vision is now almost ready to leap into production.

Martin Aircraft's new P12 Jetpack prototype has the ducted fans mounted at waist height fo...

The P12 prototype, shown above during a flight test, is described by Martin Aircraft Company’s CEO, Peter Coker, as a “huge step up” from the previous prototype. “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,” says Coker.

Current performance numbers include a maximum airspeed of 74 km/h (46 mph) with normal cruise speed a more sedate 56 km/h (35 mph). A full tank of premium gas (with added oil) will keep the lucky pilot aloft for 30 minutes, during which time the Jetpack can travel about 30 km (20 mi). At its rated takeoff weight of 330 kg (725 lb), the ducted fans can supply an excess 50 kg of thrust, resulting in snappy changes in altitude.

The Jetpack's ceiling is 3000 ft (900 m), and it is recommended for operation above 500 ft (150 m) to give the safety systems (including a rocket-deployed ballistic parachute) plenty of time to function. The 95 dB noise level is significant (think loud vacuum cleaner) as you will experience in the video below, calling for hearing protection for the pilot in addition to helmet, neck restraint, boots, and fireproof suit.

Martin's present focus is to further refine and improve the jetpack's performance before releasing it for commercial sales. In particular, Martin is altering the engine design to extend the time between required overhaul from the present 200 hours. Planned modifications include improving the crankshaft design by going to a single piece crank.

Martin Aircraft's V4 Jetpack engine (Photo: Martin Aircraft)

The engine is a bespoke design for the Jetpack, with a 2.0 liter displacement that tops out at 200 hp (150 kW) and 180 ft-lb (245 Nm) of torque. Based on a V4 two-stroke design, the weight of the engine was reduced through careful engineering to 60 kg (132 lb). The size of the engine is a tiny 0.5 x 0.45 x 0.3 m (20 x 18 x 12 in).

For comparison, a high-performance 2.0 liter, 200 hp four-stroke automotive engine from Weber Motor weighs 75 kg (165 lb) and measures 0.5 x 0.5 x 0.45 m (20 x 20 x 18 in). The new engine is expected to be installed in the P12 prototype before the end of the year.

While the Martin Jetpack will qualify as a microlight aircraft in much of the world, this is not the case in the US, as it is too heavy. It will be a light sport plane, and as such a Sport Pilot's license will be needed to fly the Jetpack. Although not required by law, Martin also offers a training course that would be a very good idea to include in one's preparations for the first Jetpack flight.

While Martin hopes eventually to sell its Jetpack for $100,000 (plus shipping, duties, and taxes) in the US, the initial price is expected to be more in the $150-200K range. The company is currently accepting inquiries from commercial customers and prospective early adopters can secure an secure an "early production position" with a $5000 deposit. While the practicality of the Martin Jetpack for a private pilot may be questionable, the bragging rights will be enormous!

Source: Martin Aircraft Company

About the Author
Brian Dodson From an early age Brian wanted to become a scientist. He did, earning a Ph.D. in physics and embarking on an R&D career which has recently broken the 40th anniversary. What he didn't expect was that along the way he would become a patent agent, a rocket scientist, a gourmet cook, a biotech entrepreneur, an opera tenor and a science writer.   All articles by Brian Dodson
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36 Comments

Great, one more piece of equipment that every swat team will just HAVE to have, to go with the armored troop carriers, the tanks, and semi-auto AR-15's (note: not an assault rifle) that are just too scary for civilians to own.

Why, with this tool, they could post airborne snipers armed with Tracking Point scopes, to better "handle" anyone who disagrees with their definition of "Domestic Terrorist".

Thanks guys, for a while there, I thought with an order for more than 1.6 billion rounds, and only another million or so in frangible rounds, they might just have been out gunned.

Though I missed the rocket launchers........next model?"sigh."

(I only WISH this was sarcasm)

kellory
29th September, 2013 @ 06:48 am PDT

there is no pilot onboard. increasing the MTOW by 70-100kg is going to make the motor work a lot harder than this.

David Buzz
29th September, 2013 @ 04:58 pm PDT

Ducted fans are jets now? Its less a jetpack and more a strap-on airplane.

The motor sounds like an interesting base for a few projects.

Ozuzi
29th September, 2013 @ 05:40 pm PDT

Can you imagine how many rich morons will kill themselves in these things, a parachute doesn't help when you fly into tall objects due to lack of skill and just plain stupidity :)

Mr T
29th September, 2013 @ 06:09 pm PDT

Jetman is laughing in his armchair.

You can't call it a jetpack unless the thrust and your body points horizontally, and you travel like a bat out of hell.

Nairda
29th September, 2013 @ 07:45 pm PDT

Still of limited use - you can't carry much gear with you and would probably need a helicopter winch to complete any rescue. Still, first response from the tray of a nearby 4WD pickup or SES van would be good in hilly areas while a copter is readied.

The Skud
29th September, 2013 @ 08:25 pm PDT

Pretty sure this will be just for recreational use, or using it to travel short distances for the rich people who can afford it, like traveling to your cottage... from your other cottage.

Or maby traveling to work if its not more then 30km away.

Nathaneal Blemings
30th September, 2013 @ 03:21 am PDT

Uhm... is the engine the offspring of four Honda CR500 powerplants?

Giolli Joker
30th September, 2013 @ 04:46 am PDT

Tell me they're going to put a silencer on that exhaust! Bloody hell, 'tis bad enough now with all the microlights and private aircraft buzzing around here, 7 days a week. This is going to irritate the hell out of the neighbours. And anyway, surely an internal combustion engine is obsolete in this role. Wasn't there an outfit developing an electrically powered, back-pack thingy, or did that fall by the wayside. (Sorry)

Grunt
30th September, 2013 @ 06:58 am PDT

Why not make this unmanned and use it for things like plucking people from the water or other places where people need rescuing. An unmanned version would be just as safe as a manned version.

Mike Kling
30th September, 2013 @ 07:56 am PDT

FIRST RESPONDER'S JET-PACK NOW CERTIFIED! Picture this. A birthday party for a 90-year-old woman is held in her daughter's back-yard with a dozen guests. Near the end of the event, a guest grabs his chest and collapses. Less than a minute after a call is made to 9-1-1 an EMT with in a Jet-Pack equipped with Defib and gear descends into the back-yard and lands, to the astonishment of everyone. Half the remaining guests grab their chests and collapse!

Brian Empey
30th September, 2013 @ 09:16 am PDT

The entire demo video flight was conducted well under the "dead-man curve", where every part is critical and failure is not an option. As an ultra-lite aircraft, there will be private owners doing their own servicing and signing thier own death-warrents. I just hope that the fearless aviators aren't over populated centers when they rain down from the skies.

Paulinator
30th September, 2013 @ 09:19 am PDT

Hats off to the guy, seriously. This is the first realistic and functioning PAV of this caliber I've ever seen!

Richard J. Auchus
30th September, 2013 @ 09:44 am PDT

Be sure to take your tape measure so you know where 500 feet is!

donwine
30th September, 2013 @ 09:54 am PDT

Far too many negative comments.

Kudos for your hard work and inventiveness. There are many applications for which this device will be the right answer for.

From what I know of the background of the man who conceived this and his Loving wife who gave her full support, I am hopeful you recoup your R&D costs and become wealthy.

steveraxx
30th September, 2013 @ 12:47 pm PDT

to be a technology site, i can't believe there are so many anti-tech people here. Its 2013 and we finally have a useable "jet pack". I do not see this distilling to the local public anytime soon, but I see it being a boon to first responders. Being able to land in a semi-remote area or arriving in a location too small to land a chopper or drive a vehicle would be great. The possibilities are niche but still good.

Michael Wilson
30th September, 2013 @ 12:49 pm PDT

I'm disappointed with the number of thoughtless and scathing comments. This is the the first practical one man VTOL aircraft in the world; it's what so many people have dreamed about for centuries and it's finally here!

Makes me proud to be a Kiwi. We were ahead of the Wright Brothers too with the first flight although most people don't know that. Richard Pearce got into the air 9 months before Orville and Wilbur.

warren52nz
30th September, 2013 @ 01:09 pm PDT

I agree. It's not a jet-pack, it's more a hover-pack, albeit with adjustable hover height. I think the term 'ducted fan pack' is likely more apt.

And re: the comment of SWAT teams using this for posting airborne snipers? They have helicopters for that, which are more stable, offer more versatility, and can carry a lot more weight (even multiple snipers!). It may be a step toward something better, but as it stands, it's nothing more than an expensive means of flying into a cliff.

Tom Howell
30th September, 2013 @ 01:52 pm PDT

Hmm :/ Not what I was hoping to see. I think we all know what was expected, so far they haven't delivered.

Gargamoth
30th September, 2013 @ 02:58 pm PDT

Add a carbon fiber wing like Jetman uses and you can probably get enough lift to do some horizontal flight. Of course then you have to learn to transition back to vertical to land and this was the doom of all the tail sitter VTOL fighter programs of the 50's.

Be good to have some sort of automatic pitch adjustment so you could have good climb and good cruise, too.

Hats off to Mr. Martin, but this is a workable prototype in much the same way the 1905 Wright Flyer was.

Lsaguy
30th September, 2013 @ 04:40 pm PDT

Need plants to build, distrib centers, & pilot training alone.

Huge franchise or chain venture alone

& ideal for later

Tourism- strap one on & fly around Hawaii, Arizona Sedona, UT, Upstate NY, So PA etc & have buddy seat??

Must produce this big time & offer for Rental Use.

Stephen N Russell
30th September, 2013 @ 05:29 pm PDT

@ Lsaguy

Actually the doom of the tail sitters was that they were hard to land and functionally obsolete as fighter aircraft before they were perfected. Swooping into a vertical climb is not that difficult you can do it in a Piper Cub.

Slowburn
30th September, 2013 @ 08:26 pm PDT

Bravo! NZ strikes again. Congratulations.

One question: why doesn't it flip over around its center of gravity? Do the rotors have a gyroscopic effect?

tnstaafl
30th September, 2013 @ 08:42 pm PDT

I find this thing so laboured. This is much more appealing to me: http://www.youtube.com/user/genh4. Four engines, lightweight, simple. I hope they continue development to make to affordable.

SeekerFinder
1st October, 2013 @ 02:11 am PDT

O.K. You're in the air. But the performance figures aren't that impressive, are they? If this were an(other) e-bike being presented, everyone would be complaining about the limited range & speed!

And how much does it cost? Hmmm... perhaps a $10,000 e-bike is a bargain after all :-)

duh3000
1st October, 2013 @ 04:56 am PDT

Hey, the thing actually does fly! Moller has been building "prototype" flying cars for 30 years and none of them have ever done anything more than hover in place while tethered. He's logged zero miles of flight time in all those years.

Satweavers
1st October, 2013 @ 08:58 am PDT

"One question: why doesn't it flip over around its center of gravity? Do the rotors have a gyroscopic effect? "

The rotors probably counter-rotate so their gyro effects cancel each other out.

Comments about the Moller are well taken. 40 years and 100's of $M later and only 2 tethered flights. Read that the holdup was due to the insurance company not allowing it. Why would they? Then they might have to pay a claim instead of just collecting premium checks and paying commissions.

Also the Moller was way too complicated and totally unrealistic. 8 engines? 25,000 ft cruise...with no pressurization?

Maybe a re-do on it. Dump the 8 Wankels for 1 or 2 PT6s or an Allison out of JetRanger. Lighter, less complicated to operate and maintain.

But Moller was apparently able to convince yet another investment group to put their money into it. Hopefully a new project manager will either get this thing flying or put it down once and for all.

Dave Merriam
1st October, 2013 @ 10:08 am PDT

Never mind the "jet pack" idea. Pack all the HP & technology into a Star Wars "hover bike" and let me at it!

emptymag
1st October, 2013 @ 11:29 am PDT

For only $7,000 you can buy a much more fun and reliable paramotor, para motors are much safer too, as you can kill the engine at any height and just glide to the ground, or just do that for the fun of I t from a high altitude and glide around and save gas, and be in fly quietly in awe

00jeff
1st October, 2013 @ 01:44 pm PDT

Geez. I sounded like an "art critic". Apologies all around. As an aviation buff with a technology background, I see limitations with high performance powered-lift vehicles in public use. It certainly would have relevance in first response, specialized industrial and military applications, though.

Paulinator
1st October, 2013 @ 02:33 pm PDT

Glenn Martin? A very historical name in aviation.

The Jetpack is a quite an impressive bit of technology. A previous attempt at producing a jetpack type vehicle was a device called the SoloTrek Exoskeleton Flying Vehicle by a company called Trek Aerospace. This vehicle was not successfully developed though there are YouTube videos of it making short hops. Martin seems to have gotten much farther with his vehicle and now seems poised to enter the market. Time will tell if the Jetpack and its offspring will find a niche in aviation.

The noise it generates seems to detract from the appeal of the machine especially considering it is intended to operate near people in urban environments.

One would think that a turbine engine would have been used in the Jetpack. Maybe future versions will use turbine or electric power. Electric would have the additional advantage of being less noisy. Then again, batteries are heavy and don't have the needed energy density yet.

Nostromo47
1st October, 2013 @ 11:46 pm PDT

It's a shame the axial vector engine is not available for this unit... a 100hp axial vector weighs @ 100 pounds and puts out 300 ft lb. tq... with absolutely no combustion issues related to inverted gyroscoping.

alien678
2nd October, 2013 @ 11:30 am PDT

A jetpack should be small and light enough that you can jump out of a window with it.

Slowburn
2nd October, 2013 @ 08:08 pm PDT

Here is an answer for a couple of questions:

Flight time at this point is 10min not 30min.

Rotors don't counter rotate, instead each rotor has a set of fixed blades below which balance to forces.

Jet Pack has a fly-by-wire controls, it's nearly impossible to operate it manually, so as far as it goes flying it won't be a difficult task.

It can be controlled remotely, if fact it may be used in a limited control mode so public can pay to fly one at events or in recreational industry.

As far as rich doing their own servicing, this is certified as a light aircraft, so if people are allowed to service their own planes then they are doing it already, think on that. same goes for noise, flight altitude and speed, again it is under certification so it has to follow all standards that light aircraft are following.

Source? been to their presentation a couple of weeks back here in Auckland, NZ

Alex1984
6th October, 2013 @ 02:37 pm PDT

I think people from larger countries are getting jealous of a small nations like NZ over taking them in technology… No offence just saying.

Horace Huayu Nie
7th October, 2013 @ 12:05 am PDT

how well does it do over sandy deserts?

Daniel Pitton
29th October, 2013 @ 08:27 am PDT
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