Martin Aircraft replaces jetpack engine with more powerful engine

Martin Aircraft has replaced the engine in its jetpacks with a rotary engine from UK-based Gilo Industries Group.

The engine will be supplied by Gilo's wholly-owned subsidiary Rotron Power, which has been specifically adapted for unmanned air vehicles. Testing has been under way since last year.

Christchurch-based Martin Aircraft said it had never planned for the custom-designed and built two-stroke V4 engine it has used in developing its jetpacks to date to be its commercial offering and it began investigating other options in June 2015. That testing will continue as the company moves to align the engine delivery with the production build, it said.

"The Rotron engine delivers greater fuel and payload flexibility, improved operational range and a multi-mission capability that fits well with our product development roadmap for the Martin Jetpack and Jetpack products," chief executive Peter Coker said. The engine has a higher power-to-weight ratio than any other specific engine while remaining small, lightweight and reliable with almost zero vibration, the company said, making it an ideal engine for manned and unmanned aircraft.

Last August, Martin Aircraft reported an annual loss of $5.2 million as it continues developing the world's first commercial jetpack. The 17-year-old company has said it hopes to make first deliveries in the second half of this year, with a personal jetpack available from the second quarter of 2017.

The machine will be flown by a pilot or remote control and its potential uses include search and rescue, military, recreational, and commercial applications. It can fly for up to 30 minutes at a maximum speed of 74 kilometres an hour at an altitude of 1000 metres.

The Christchurch-based company raised $28 million in an initial public offering on the Australian Stock Exchange in February 2015, which saw Chinese entrepreneurial investor KuangChi Science become the largest shareholder with 22.7%.

Martin Aircraft shares last traded at 45Ac, below the 60Ac listing price but ahead of the 40Ac IPO issue price.

(BusinessDesk)

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