A personal flight device called the Flyboard Air has been revealed in a new video, taking the jet pack of popular science fiction one step closer to reality.
The Flyboard Air is a jet-powered board which a human operator stands on, allowing them to fly a considerable distance off the ground.
The device itself was made by Franky Zapata, the creator of the earlier ‘Flyboard’ – a water-powered board attached to a jetski.
While the original Flyboard enabled a user to ‘fly’ a few meters above a lake or the ocean, the new Flyboard Air does not require a connection to any apparatus on the ground.
In a video released over the weekend, Franky Zapata is shown flying up to approximately 30m off the ground over a lake for several minutes, before landing safely back on dry land.
Zapata reportedly worked on the new device for over four years before coming to the design debuted this week.
Little information is available about how the system works, however it appears a backpack worn by the flier contains fuel for a jet engine within the board under the flyer’s feet.
The Flyboard Air can fly at speeds of up to 150km/h and for up to 10 minutes before requiring refueling.
As well, Zapata claims that his device can fly as high as 10,000ft (3048m), however this has yet to be put to the test.
Furthermore, the current device debuted in the video is only a prototype, and a market-ready product is likely still several years away.
One significant barrier to the commercialization of the technology behind the Flyboard Air, is the danger of flying so close to the ground.
While at higher altitudes a parachute would provide protection to a flyer should their device fail, close to the ground a parachute could not deploy quickly enough.
Flying the craft solely over water may alleviate some of these problems but nonetheless the craft would still be incredibly dangerous in the hands of an unskilled pilot.
Until such concerns can be solved, it is unlikely the Flyboard Air will ever receive approval for widespread civilian use.