We're another step closer to an economy that's less Fonterra, more Jetsons.
The Martin Aircraft Company has gone public with its latest prototype Jetpack, the P12 – its first model to gain Civil Aviation Authority certification for manned flight.
The certification was granted in early July, CEO Peter Coker tells NBR ONLINE.
The P12 is billed as a “huge step up” on previous prototypes.
“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 manoeuvrability,” Mr Coker says.
The Christchurch company – founded by Glenn Martin in 2004 – has been experimenting with operational jetpack designs for hal a decade.
Now, it’s getting close to the point of commercial manufacture, Mr Coker says.
First, Martin Aircraft needs to raise another $3 million from private investors to finish development and testing of the P12 (of which there is only one at present; a second is being constructed).
Then, to raise funds for manufacture, Martin Aircraft plans an IPO on the NZX (chairwoman Jenny Morel has previously told media the company could seek $20 millon; Mr Coker would not be drawn today).
The CEO says the IPO will definitely take place within the next 12 months. Early next year is a possibility. Martin has been talking with potential underwriters and brokers, but has no formal agreements at this point.
A Martin Aircraft IPO has been mooted since 2009, but now there signs the company is getting serious. Previous Jetpacks have had mixed demos – sometimes more low-flying (as when NBR encountered it four years ago), more often these days spectacular and soaring. But with the CAA certification, the P12 is primed for commercial release. And on the commercial level, Mr Coker has been drafted in from Lockheed Martin, where we was international business development
The company could make up to 500 Jetpacks a year at its Woolston, Christchurch facility, Mr Coker says, initially priced at $250,000 each.
“We are focussing initially on developing the Jetpack for use as a first responder vehicle and heavy lift unmanned air vehicle,” Mr Coker says.
The aim is to follow up with a $150,000 model, which would have broader appeal. Eventually the CEO sees the Jetpack hitting the recreational market.
If it does, and production takes off, manufacturing would move offshore, albeit with Martin Aircraft keeping tight control of design and IP. A joint venture partner is already lined up in China.
- Read more about Martin Jetpack and its global sales push in this week’s print edition of NBR.
- Peter Coker will be one of the attendees at this year's Morgo entrepreneurs conference, Sept 4-6 in Queenstown.
BELOW: Flight demo clips for the previous prototype: