French inventor and thrill-seeker, Franky Zapata, renowned for his daring Channel-crossing on a hoverboard, has introduced an ‘airscooter’ to complement his array of jet-powered innovations.
Presented at the Viva Technology conference in Paris, France, Zapata’s company, aptly named Zapata, unveiled the egg-shaped hybrid-electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) prototype.
This “personal flying machine” purportedly adheres to Federal Aviation Authority Regulations and qualifies as an “ultralight aircraft” in the US, eliminating the need for a pilot’s license. Featuring a fly-by-wire flight controller and an abundance of safety sensors, piloting the airscooter should be as straightforward as operating a drone. Its market release date remains undetermined.
Equipped with 12 propellers, the aircraft houses eight electric motors and four petrol-powered motors, reaching a maximum speed of 100 km/h at altitudes ranging from 3000 to 4000 meters. Collaborating with ONERA, the French Aerospace Lab, and the French Defence Agency, Zapata is developing its own turbine engines.
While the choice of a petrol-hybrid system renders the airscooter less environmentally sustainable than the pure-electric VTOLs currently in development worldwide, this appears to be of minimal concern to Franky, who openly embraces kerosene-powered vehicles, be it jet skis, jet-powered cars, or jet-powered hoverboards.
Franky’s journey to fame commenced in 2011 when he affixed water pipes, ankle, and wrist straps to a jet ski, birthing the Flyboard and an entirely new sport. In 2016, he elevated the concept by utilizing jet engines instead of water pipes to create the Flyboard Air, a hoverboard powered by gas turbines. Most recently, he introduced the JetRacer, a flying deckchair fueled by ten small jet turbines, capable of speeds up to 250 km/h and altitudes reaching 3,000 meters.
Details regarding the availability, current flight status, or pricing of Zapata’s latest invention are yet to be disclosed. In the meantime, enthusiasts can indulge in the thrilling video of Franky racing a Lamborghini through Utah’s desert while wearing a jet suit, soaring at speeds exceeding 160 km/h.
By Impact Lab