ROCKET MAN: Martin Jetpack creator Glenn Martin.
Christchurch aero-engineering firm Martin Aircraft Company has appointed a new chief executive to launch its jetpack into the market later this year.
International aviation expert Peter Coker spent part of his first day on the job watching test flights near Oxford yesterday.
He said he had been a long-time observer of the Martin Jetpack and his decision to join the company was spurred by the “spectacular leap forward” in the aircraft’s technological capabilities.
“Recently, the company achieved a number of flight technology breakthroughs with their latest generation Jetpack and that’s when I really sat up and took notice.”
Coker said the developments had allowed the flying machine to become “a very practical machine” rather than something that was in research stages only. “In the past it’s been a research and development company. My role is now to bring it into a very much commercial company.”
The company was putting in place a plan to take it from development into production stage.
“A commercial opportunity by the end of the year is certainly an aim that we have right now.”
The current development model, the P12, has already been proven up to 5000 feet and could theoretically fly for 10 or 15 minutes, but the end production model would have greater range and endurance, Coker said.
The jetpack has achieved manned flight in controlled settings. It is undergoing unmanned remote control flight testing and later this year manned testing would become a regular part of its operations.
Based on the current test performance, the company expected the manned flight results would “catapult” its readiness towards the first commercial release of the first responder Jetpack, planned for late 2013.
A slightly modified version – the Personal Martin Jetpack – would be released in 2015.
On its website the company says it is accepting inquiries from commercial customers. Coker expects the first customers to be first responders like search and rescue teams.
Martin Aircraft chairwoman Jenny Morel said yesterday: “We have dramatically increased the overall performance of the Martin Jetpack and now with Mr Coker’s extensive networks and experience across a broad spectrum of industry sectors on board, the next step is to launch the jetpack to commercial markets around the world.”
In June last year Morel said the company wanted to raise about $2.4 million to complete the product and get it into the market, ahead of listing the company.
Coker said yesterday the company had raised “a significant amount” in the pre-IPO round and would suggest an IPO date to its board once it had established a firmer timeline for the final part of its research and development plan.
Coker was most recently general manager for Lockheed Martin Global Inc (New Zealand) and head of international business development mission systems and training for Asia Pacific. Before joining Lockheed Martin, he amassed over 5500 flying hours across 20 different types of aircraft for the Royal Air Force. He is a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and the New Zealand Institute of Management, a New Zealand Institute of Directors member and an upper freeman of the Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators.
Acknowledgements: © Fairfax NZ News