Second time lucky: Q&A with Franky Zapata

Zapata Racing’s Franky Zapata – the aerial inventor whose attempts to cross the English Channel on his personal VTOL finally succeeded – has had quite the month.

From his demonstration over a French crowd on Bastille Day (July 14), to his first failed attempt at the cross-Channel flight on the Flyboard Air; and finally, his successful cross-Channel flight on Saturday, August 3. 

Revolution.Aero spoke to Franky Zapata to learn more:   

Revolution.Aero: How do you think the Channel crossing will affect the personal VTOL market?

Franky Zapata: The crossing proved that personal VTOL aircraft could be used to travel over long distances in the foreseeable future. In addition, it could be the first step in the democratisation of personal VTOL products. The traffic congestion in big cities could make such products a more-viable transport solution than cars or motorcycles. 

 

RA: Are you trying to get the Flyboard Air certified for commercial use? How will you do this?

FZ: The Flyboard Air is not meant to be available to the public. Instead, it is a product that allows us to display our technology. This technology will then be adapted for other products meant for public use, such as a flying car, on which we are working at the moment. 

 

RA: Will the Flyboard Air be modified to all-electric?

FZ: No, because batteries are too heavy, and it is easier to produce thrust using jet engines.  

 

RA: Can you tell us more about the interest you have received for the technology? Or even a bit more about the flying car?

FZ: Indeed, the Flyboard Air sparked interest in both the French and US armies. A modified version called EZ-Fly has been presented to the US Army in October 2017 in Texas.

Moreover, during Bastille Day a few weeks ago, the Minister of the French Army said that his service would be interested to test the Flyboard for different uses, for instance a flying assault platform. Emmanuel Chiva, director of the Defense Innovation Agency, also imagined this technology being used to transport wounded soldiers, ammunition or food at the front.

Unfortunately, I cannot say anything more about the flying car.