Christchurch aero-engineering firm Martin Aircraft, maker of the Martin Jetpack, has appointed a new chief executive to launch its jetpack around the world later this year.
Company chair Jenny Morel said the company’s ability to attract a renowned international aviation expert was due to the significant technological breakthroughs the business has achieved.
“We have dramatically increased the overall performance of the Martin Jetpack and now with Mr Coker’s extensive networks and experience across a broad spectrum of industry sectors on board, the next step is to launch the jetpack to commercial markets around the world.”
She also told the Herald an IPO was possible this year, and could raise up to $20 million to fund manufacturing and marketing operations.
The Martin Jetpack bills itself as the world's first practical jetpack, and made Time magazine's list of the top 50 inventions of 2010.
The Martin Jetpack has successfully undertaken an unmanned flying programme, as well as manned flight in controlled settings. A commercial release of its First Responder Jetpack for emergency services use is planned for later this year. A slightly modified version - the Personal Martin Jetpack – will be released in 2015.
Coker's first task as CEO will be to drive the new flight demonstration and testing programme, including further manned flights in a variety of settings.
English-born, Coker has been a long-time ‘observer’ of the Martin Jetpack and says his decision to join the company was spurred by the “spectacular leap forward” in the aircraft’s technological capabilities.
“I’ve been watching the company for a number of years now. The first footage I saw [of the Martin Jetpack] was interesting to me as an aviator, but it was clearly limited in its commercial application. Recently, the company achieved a number of flight technology breakthroughs with their latest generation Jetpack and that’s when I really sat up and took notice.
"The team have created an aircraft that is fast, agile, and stable with a huge number of applications across a number of sectors. I’m really excited to be leading this company forward and I have no doubt that, in the near future, the Martin Jetpack will be in use throughout the world."
Most recently Coker was general manager for Lockheed Martin Global Inc (New Zealand) and previously a member of the Royal Air Force