The future may have just arrived, for those who are willing to pay for it.
New Zealand authorities have cleared a jetpack designed by the Martin Aircraft Company to carry a pilot, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
The jetpack can reach speeds of just under 45 mph and an altitude of a little over half a mile. The Martin Company has been issued an experimental flight permit by the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority and is expected to be on the market in 2015, although a version meant for government and emergency agencies will likely be released earlier.
Martin CEO Peter Coker said the flight permit is a significant development in bringing the jetpack to market.
“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 commercialize and take forward very quickly,” he said.
The jetpack is the result of years of development by inventor Glenn Martin. It uses a propulsion system to keep airborne and features a ballistic parachute, roll cage structure and shock-absorbing undercarriage for safety, according to the company’s website.
“Originally designed with the leisure market in mind, the Martin Jetpack has found strong demand from a wide range of markets, including military, civil defence and recreation,” the website says.
The jetpack runs on gasoline “mixed with a small amount of 2-stroke oil.” The flight-control system is computer-controlled and stabilized. Potential pilots will be introduced to the system with a flight simulator.
The price for the jetpack has not been set, according to the company, but is targeted at about $100,000 for the recreational version. While the jetpack is currently restricted to non-urban airspace in New Zealand, the company envisions a day when jetpacks are the new normal.
“While there are a number of barriers to this presently, it is not inconceivable that at some stage in the future commuting via jetpack may become a reality,” the company said. “The FAA Highways in the Sky project is being developed to provide flight paths for this.”
Whether a pilot’s license will be required depends on the country, and American authorities are currently dealing with a different jetpack issue. Hawaiian officials are questioning the safety of a jetpack that uses pumped water to propel people into the air, the Associated Press reports.
Egged on by YouTube videos that show thrill-seekers flying through the air with the help of the devices, people are queuing in Hawaii and now San Diego, Key West, Fla., and Cancun, Mexico, to give flight a try.
Authorities question whether the jetpacks are safe and the potential effects on ocean life.
Contact Stephanie Grimes at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @steph_grimes on Twitter.