Dubai to Launch Fleet of Jetpack-Flying Firefighters to Combat Towering Infernos

A city famous for its skyscrapers takes a futuristic approach to saving lives.

image via (cc) flickr user loops

The last time jetpacks buzzed the skies over Dubai, they were piloted by aerial daredevils—part of an action-sports promotional video intended to thrill and excite; The next time they do so, the futuristic flying machines will likely be strapped to the backs of firefighters, headed toward a blaze in one of the city’s towering skyscrapers.

image via martin aircraft

It was announced this week that Dubai’s Directorate of Civil Defense has signed a memorandum of understanding with Martin Aircraft Company Limited, makers of the world’s first commercially available jetpacks. The memorandum puts Dubai on the path toward ordering up to twenty of Martin Aircraft’s jetpacks—both manned, and unmanned—along with two training simulators, and various degrees of operational support and material. As GOOD wrote when Martin Aircraft first announced the jetpacks last summer, the craft are marketed primarily as tools for the next generation of first responders.

That seems to be what Dubai has in mind for their new flying fleet. Lt Col Ali Almutawa, Director of Operations Dubai’s Directorate of Civil Defense, explains:

image via martin aircraft

“The vision of Dubai Civil Defence (DCD) is protecting lives, properties and environment and to provide fast professional service, efficient investment of human and material sources to give best results. Dubai is one of the fastest growing future cities in the world with its modern skyscrapers and vast infrastructure it has always been a world leader in adapting new technology to improve and save people’s lives, the introduction of Martin Jetpacks into our fleet of emergency response vehicles is another example of how Dubai leads the world”

image via martin aircraft

While it’s unclear exactly how Dubai intends to put the jetpacks into use, Martin Aircraft CEO Martin Corker offers a hint, saying his machines have a “significant operational advantage being able to carry commercial payloads of up to 120kgs unlike Quadcopters which are limited to only a few kilograms.” With that in mind, it’s not hard to picture a swarm of jetpack-ed first responders swooping in, high above the reach of standard firefighting ladders, in order to airlift civilians out of burning buildings. Given Dubai’s skyline of towering skyscrapers, including the record-setting Burj Khalifa, it makes sense that the emirate city would be interested in equipment that can take off and land vertically in dense urban conditions, while carrying a considerable amount of weight.

The Daily Dot points out that Dubai has a history of employing flying machines when it comes to fighting fires, having last year purchased fifteen quadcopters to watch for—but not engage with—fires in typically inaccessible areas.

This promotional video offers a (dramatized) sense at what Dubai’s jetpack fleet could look like in action:

[via the daily dot, gizmag]

via International Monetary Fund / Flickr and Streetsblog Denver / Flickr

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