Reportedly, The Wall Street Journal notes that by next year, New Zealand's Martin Aircraft Company plans to have the first jetpack on the market available for consumers to buy. The only problem is that this has left global aviation authorities scratching their head as they try to figure out "just how to classify the new aircraft." The price is staggering, while the issue of having to emergency land on sheep bizarre for anyone outside of New Zealand.
Rex Kenny is manager for special flight operations and recreational aviation at the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand. It is pretty much up to him to decide whether jetpacks should be allowed. Part of the debate took off when the aviation official tried to fit jetpacks neatly into existing categories. Is it a helicopter? Is it an aircraft? Mr. Kenny studied the rule book and concluded it is neither.
"It's a misnomer to call it a jetpack because it is a ducted fan," says Mr. Kenny. "It's a lift device really. When we looked at our rules, microlight was the closest," referring to a lightweight craft for one or two passengers.
The name game was simple, though, compared with navigating through other issues, ranging from the safety of jetpack pilots to what happens if one crashes into a building or makes an emergency landing on a nearby farm.
"If you land in someone's paddock, you will always land on their prime sheep," Mr. Kenny says, stressing that liability insurance for pilots is a must.
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