Unmanned Martin Jetpack Climbs To 5000' and Tests
Ballistic Parachute Deployment/Recovery
For those who thought the Martin ducted fan personal flying
machine (aka 'Martin Jetpack' -- even though no 'jets' are
involved) was a complex parlor trick (and yeah, we were getting
there), there seems to be some evidence that the machine CAN
actually accomplish some complex, even useful, helicopter like
flying tasks. A recent test flight, radio-controlled from a chase
helo, proved that the system can attain serious altitudes, while
also showing that the BRS emergency system (as usual) can handle an
emergency descent with relative ease.
The latest test flight took place over Canterbury Plains (NZ) at
a climb rate of 800ft per minute, reaching an altitude of 5,000ft
(beating the previous record of 100 FPM and 50' ultimate altitude)
before deploying a ballistic parachute in the first such test
of this system.
The Martin folks, of course, are
heralding this as a 'major step towards commercial production of
the world's first practical Jetpack' while Inventor Glenn Martin
noted that, "This successful test brings the future another step
closer." The flight was part of an intensive period of
flight-testing for the Jetpack as the Martin Aircraft Company works
through the 'final development phase' of the Jetpack's technologies
with the aim to have first deliveries of both the manned and
unmanned (UAV) versions to key customers within the next 18 months.
The commercial version of the vehicle is being designed to fly for
half an hour or more, climb more than 1000 FPM and cruise at 100
"In this test we limited the
Jetpack to 800 FPM climb so the chase helicopters could keep up,"
said Martin. This test utilized the UAV unmanned version using a
weighted dummy, simulating a pilot's weight, to demonstrate the
Jetpack's ability to fly at higher operational altitudes. The
Ballistic Parachute safety system was also tested, and 'while this
test was a verification of the safety system using an off the shelf
version, Martin Aircraft believes that with the purpose built
Ballistic Parachute they are developing, unlike helicopters, the
Jetpack's avoidance curve can be removed entirely - meaning that
with the Martin safety systems there is no height where a
catastrophic failure needs to lead to significant injury.'
"This test also validated our flight
model, proved thrust to weight ratio and proved our ability to fly
a Jetpack as an unmanned aerial vehicle, which will be key to some
of the Jetpack's future emergency/search & rescue and military
applications," said Martin. The earliest Martin Jetpack customers
are expected to be in the military and emergency response sectors
around the world. Unmanned Jetpacks could be used for delivery,
observation and extraction in areas and situations too dangerous
for people and other aircraft to get to. Martin Aircraft CEO,
Richard Lauder said the Christchurch based company is now in an
intensive testing period to refine technology in the areas of
safety (the Ballistic Parachute), engine performance over extended
and continuous hours of operation, and high speed flight stability.
He said all the technologies tested during the high flight
performed well and technicians are already working on the next test
to push new boundaries of the flight envelope.
Lauder says that, "this latest
successful high flight was a complex aviation event requiring
approval from the Civil Aviation Authority, and took several months
to coordinate. From a company point of view, the high flight shows
Martin Aircraft's development over the past two years and its
expertise in coordinating and running a sophisticated and complex
aviation event of this nature."