Martin jetpack wants more money

Last updated 15:41 15/06/2012

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The Martin Jetpack is looking for 100 more investors to raise $2.4 million to get the world's first commercially viable jetpack to market.

The jetpack's backers, technology venture capitalist company No 8 Ventures, said today it planned to release the first manned jetpack midway through next year which would be suitable for search and rescue, police and other government services.

The personal jetpack would be released about a year after that.

No 8 Ventures managing partner Jenny Morel also confirmed it will publicly list the Martin Aircraft Company.

"Before we get to a listing later this year or early next year, we're seeking up to 100 investors to put in $24,000 (about US$20,000) each," Morel said.

"This will give us the money we need to complete the product and get into the market."

That many investors would give the company a good spread of investors it needed for listing.

"The IPO will be to give us the money to set up production."

There is also a little investor sweetener. Morel said the first personal jetpacks would be put aside for investors.

"This is how you jump the queue," she said.

However its schedule seems to have hit a bump. It said in May last year it expected to complete its capital raising by the end of 2011.

Morel said shareholders would meet in August to decide on a feasible IPO date.

Inventor Glenn Martin retains the lion's share of Martin Aircraft, ahead of No8 ventures, of the 47 shareholders in the company.

By the time the first units are launched mid-2013, they will have spent as much as $8m on research and development, a "skinny budget" for such an advanced technological product, Morel said.

Invented by Christchurch man Glenn Martin, the jetpack completed a successful test flight mid-2011 - climbing at a rate of 800 feet a minute (244 metres a minute) and reaching an altitude of 5000ft. It can climb more than 1000ft a minute, cruise at 100 km/h, fly for half an hour or more, and carry 120kg in weight.

As to unit costs, Morel was nervous about repeating a target retail price for the jetpack of US$100,000 for the recreational version. A much heavier government-commissioned jetpack for use in search and rescue, border patrol or military use would typically cost about double that due to modifications around lift, flight time, speed and temperature range.

Morel said today that price was aspirational as the first units were likely to be more than that.

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