New Zealand Flight Authority Grants Permit for Piloting Jetpacks

Company is ready to test human-piloted jetpacks.

ByABC News
August 14, 2013, 4:32 PM

Aug. 14, 2013— -- Sci-fi enthusiasts in the United States are excited about Elon Musk's Hyperloop design as a mode of transportation. But unlike Hyperloop, which government agencies are reluctant to comment on, the personalized jet pack received some form of acknowledgment on the other side of the world.

The Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAA) recently granted a permit to the Martin Aircraft company, allowing it to test jetpacks with a pilot at the helm.

As reported by the New Zealand news show One News, the CAA said that the jet pack "may not be flown more than 20 feet above the ground or 25 feet above water."

The CAA added that there are only two uninhabited areas in New Zealand where Martin Aircraft can test its jetpacks.

However, those stringent conditions are just for Martin Aircraft to run additional tests. The company is getting ready to debut the jetpack by the end of the year and anticipates that the CAA will be as excited about that as the company is.

Peter Coker, the CEO of Martin Aircraft, said that the CAA has been very flexible and accommodating, so far.

"We worked very closely with them throughout the testing process," he told ABC News. "They came and watched us do a remote test flight and then gave us the license for a manned test flight."

Though the CAA currently places an elevation restriction on how high the jetpack can go, it is capable of much greater heights. A recent outdoor test with a dummy pilot reached 5,000 feet before launching a parachute and gliding back down to land.

Because of the Martin jetpack's relatively light weight, 132 pounds, Martin Aircraft has classified it as a microlight aircraft. It would fall under similar regulations to what the Federal Avaiation Administration has set up for ultralight vehicles in the United States.

"We've flown other types of prototypes before this, even with human pilots," said Coker. "But those were more proofs of concept. This particular machine is going to change aviation."

Though the Martin jetpack was originally designed as a recreational vehicle, the company said both the military and civil defense markets have shown interest.

The company's first customers are likely to be government employees involved with search-and-rescue missions.