Jetpack Aviation has leap-frogged its own flying car project with the announcement that it's taking pre-orders now on a self-stabilizing, jet turbine-powered flying motorcycle capable of 150 mph speeds, 20 minute endurance and 15,000 ft altitudes.
The Speeder builds on JPA's jet turbine expertise, developed over the years working on the company's astounding JB-series jetpacks. It uses a cluster of four turbojet engines putting out a combined maximum thrust of 705 lbf – enough to lift the 231-lb (105 kg) airframe and a pilot up to 240 lb (109 kg).
Crucially, they're also rigged up to a fly-by-wire control system that allows the Speeder to self-stabilize in the air, much like a quadcopter drone. Running on kerosene, JetA or diesel, you can get yourself between 10 and 22 minutes in the air, dependent on pilot weight and density altitude.
It's got hand controls, a 12-inch touch screen for navigation, and a built-in two-way aviation radio system for air-to-air and air-to-ground communications. JPA says it will build different versions to fit ultralight and recreational categories under FAA law, meaning you'll be able to fly the ultralight version with no license at all. The experimental category version will need a full pilot's license, but JPA is in contact with the FAA, trying to have that reduced to a Recreational Pilot Certificate or Sport Pilot's License to make life easier.
Like the JB-series jetpacks – and indeed the Zapata Flyboard – it's more or less a tilt-to-accelerate kind of deal, so it'll be interesting to see how that's achieved via the controls. In terms of safety, well, there's some redundancy built into the system, and it can still self-stabilize if one of the jets goes down. Any more than that, and you'll be wishing you took the bus that day – but we've spoken to JPA CEO David Mayman in the past about ballistic parachute systems and death zone recovery options, so we know that safety will be high on the company's list of priorities.
It doesn't have fold-down jet wheels and alleged road riding capability like Lazareth's possibly fanciful Moto Volante. At 120 decibels, it's going to be a ton noisier than Dezso Molnar's GSXR-powered G2 gyrobike. And at a price of US$380,000, it's gonna hit the hip pocket far harder than the Hoversurf Scorpion multirotor or the late Larry Neal's sub-US$40k Super Sky Cycle. But it does have David Mayman and Nelson Tyler behind it, who have proven their personal aviation credentials with hundreds of jetpack flights to date, and are taking the whole personal flight thing very seriously.
They've now got the resources of the Y Combinator program behind them as well, so there's every indication Jetpack Aviation is getting ready to go big in the coming months and years.
As to the Speeder, the company plans to build just 20 for the time being. You can reserve one yourself now for US$10,000. After that, all production will be dedicated to military and government use. The military version will be slightly different, with an additional jet turbine for redundancy and extra lift, and the capability to remote-fly it as a drone or cargo carrier.
We plan to catch up with David Mayman in the next few days to learn more, but in the meantime, check out a rendered video below.
Source: Jetpack Aviation
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