January 10, 2016 7:50 pm
Updated: January 10, 2016 7:57 pm

Dubai to battle skyscraper blazes with a fleet of flying firefighters

Director of Flight Operations from New Zealand-based Martin Aircraft Company, flies on a Martin Jetpack over a water park on December 6, 2015 in Shenzhen, China.

Photo by ChinaFotoPress

On New Year’s Eve 2015, the world watched as Dubai’s 63-storey The Address Hotel exploded into flames. As the dramatic fireworks rose up, the high-rise showered debris on the streets below, leaving emergency crews to attempt to contain the blaze that nearly reached the top of the 302-metre-high skyscraper.

This isn’t the first time Dubai has had a problem combatting fires on its skyline which boasts 911 high-rises including four of the world’s 25 tallest buildings. Because of Dubai’s affinity for the shiny metallic look, many of the city’s buildings are fitted with aluminum composite panels that can be highly flammable. The Address Hotel fire was, in fact, the fourth major skyscraper blaze in Dubai since 2012.

WATCH: Time-lapse footage shows full extent of Dubai New Year’s Eve skyscraper fire

To avoid the cost of replacing the non-fire rated panels, the United Arab Emirates metropolis thinks it might have a potential solution to help first responders battle the blazes – jetpacks.

On Nov. 9, 2015, Dubai Civil Defence signed a multi-million dollar contract with the small New Zealand-based Martin Aircraft Company for a delivery of 20 of its jetpacks.

WATCH: Manned jetpack demo from Martin Aircraft to be used in Dubai

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The personal flying machines use fans instead of actual jets and can reach a maximum height of 3,000 feet at a speed of 72 kilometres per hour. The jetpacks can also be used as a drone, flying unmanned by remote control with a payload weight of 120 kilograms.

Martin Aircraft describes their $340,000 CAD machines as “highly responsive tactical air assets” that will be used for surveillance, and “high-rise rescue.” They also boast that their size and mobility allow the jetpacks to “operate in confined spaces such as close to or between buildings.”

Jetpacks have long been firmly placed in the realm of science fiction but Martin Aircraft isn’t the only company developing the technology for real-world use. Jetpack Aviation from Australia recently released a video of one of its manned flying machines doing circles around the Statue of Liberty in New York City.

WATCH: Own the Sky: Jetpack ride through New York City

So when might we see flying firefighters zipping around the Dubai skyline?

Mike Tournier, VP Sales and Marketing at Martin Aircraft Co. told Global News the future is right around the corner.

“Dubai Civil Defence will take delivery of jetpacks in the second half of 2016.”

© 2016 Shaw Media

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