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Martin Aircraft enters pact with KuangChi

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/08/2016 Jonathan Underhill

Martin Aircraft, the personal jetpack developer, is to enter a technology-sharing agreement with cornerstone shareholder KuangChi Science which will see chief executive Peter Coker step down to take a new role in KuangChi's "Global Community of Innovation" (GCI) and chief financial officer James West promoted as his replacement.

ASX-listed Martin "has been undertaking an in-depth review of the company's progress, in particular, focusing on how best to both progress the path toward commercialisation of the Series 1 Jetpack whilst effectively managing its cost base," the company said.

Martin plans to keep costs at bay by joining KuangChi's GCI, which was set up "to create synergy and lower cost" across the Chinese firm's portfolio of technology companies, it said.

The GCI is "in essence a group that will explore ways to share services to lower costs and leverage technology across each of the disruptive technology companies within their investment portfolio."

Coker would become vice president Global Community of Innovators Business Unit at KuangChi, which, in turn, would "assist in the delivery of a number of services to Martin including support in the areas of marketing and investor relations". Each service would be covered by a service level agreement at a reduced cost and help speed Martin's delivery of the Series 1 Jetpack.

Martin plans to use the Series 1 Jetpack for capability demonstrations to potential customers in 2017, boosting sales and securing further funding for design, development and certification of the Series 2 Jetpack next year, it said.

Last August, Martin reported an annual loss of $5.2 million. The 17-year-old company has said it hopes to make first deliveries in the second half of this year, with a personal jetpack available from the second quarter of 2017.

The machine can be flown by a pilot or remote control and can fly for up to 30 minutes at a maximum speed of 74km/h at an altitude of 1,000 metres.

Martin Aircraft shares last traded at 46 Australian cents, below their 60 Australian cents listing price but ahead of the 40 Australian cents they were sold at in the initial public offering. The stock has fallen 37 per cent this year.

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