Richard Browning and Gravity Industries’ Jet Suit just got a big upgrade. In a sneak peek promotional video posted to Instagram on August 10th, Richard is seen flying his newest jet pack, complete with a wing suit and airfoil attachment to augment the already impressive setup. The post was a teaser for his segment in a BBC TV Show Inside Out, airing September 2nd in partnership with X Blade Drone Racing Group. The flight took place in the Isle of White, near Southampton.
The man behind the jet pack, Richard Browning, has been an engineer and inventor for his entire life, and is the founder of Gravity Industries. Gravity builds “1000 horsepower jet suits” and is arguably one of the world’s most popular jet pack manufacturers. Gravity Industries was founded in March of 2017, and has grown in popularity tremendously in the last two years. Gravity Industries was not able to comment on further details of the reveal but stated that “we were testing the capabilities of the Jet Suit and trying something that has never been attempted before” for the show.
While not readily apparent, many of the technological advances baked into Gravity’s jet suit may also apply to the UAM industry – namely the propulsion system. While battery technology is not mature enough to be the sole provider of propulsion for many urban aircraft, smaller gas turbines, or normally aspirated piston engines – combined with battery packs – may be the hybridized propulsion system that bridges the gap between the energy storing technology of today and that of the next 20 years, when batteries are advanced enough to be the sole propulsor for many air taxis and small commercial transport aircraft.
Why it’s important: Gravity Industries is pushing the boundaries of human jet pack flight. Less than a month after Franky Zapata flew across the English Channel on his jetpack, Gravity is showcasing the upgraded capabilities of the gas turbine powered jetpack that Richard Browning has been refining over the past years. Advances in controlled and accelerated forward flight for jetpacks aren’t directly applicable to UAM, but the novel propulsion configurations and control laws that will aid in safe flight from one location to the next could likely be applied to UAM technologies that involved novel power plant configuration aircraft for which conventional stability and control principles won’t suffice.