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World landspeed record challenge launched from NZ


The World Landspeed Record will be contested for the first time by a New Zealand-led challenge that has unveiled a 13-metre, all black, full-scale model of its Jetblack car

The Jetblack challenge aims to contest the World Landspeed Record by 2016 with a New Zealand-led team in partnership with world class technology companies and some of the greatest engineering minds in the world.

The Jetblack team is led by young New Zealand entrepreneur Richard Nowland and includes: Richard Roake, Jetblack’s aerodynamicist (New Zealander); Glynne Bowsher, Jetblack’s wheel engineer (Welsh) who was mechanical engineer for the current World Landspeed Record holder – Thrust SSC, and Jetblack driver RNZAF Wing Commander Stephen Hunt who is also an ex-RAF Harrier pilot (New Zealander) It embodies New Zealand’s innovative spirit and determination while drawing on international expertise.

“My goal for Jetblack is to promote New Zealand’s engineering and innovation capability. Every single part of the car must be designed – there is almost nothing we can take off the shelf. And that poses great opportunities and challenges for our technology, engineering and manufacturing industries,” says Richard Nowland.

Jetblack’s wheels are being designed by Glynne Bowsher, the mechanical engineer for the current World Landspeed Record-holder – its wheels were made of solid, aerospace-grade aluminium; not a streak of rubber in sight. Jetblack is exploring both innovative design and investigating material for the wheels.

The car will have the first all-composite chassis being designed by New Zealander Dr Mark Battley of Applied Engineering Research Ltd. New Zealand has become a world leader in composite material technology, originally created for boat-building and made famous by the America’s Cup regatta. Every World Landspeed Record challenge to date has been made with a steel-framed car.

Jetblack will be powered by a turbofan engine and two ‘hybrid’ rockets, the latter produced by Space Propulsion Group in California, USA. These are a similar technology to the rockets used in Space Ship Two, Virgin Galactic’s passenger spacecraft but with throttle control of the thrust they produce.

Jetblack is the brainchild of Richard Nowland whose speed dream has moved forward since 2007 when he successfully bid for two ex-RAF Rolls Royce Avon 206 turbojet engines in an online auction. Back then he was aiming just to break the New Zealand and Australian Landspeed Records.

For the cockpit design, for example, Auckland University of Technology is conducting research to assist the design and has built a cockpit simulator, guided by Dr Robert Wellington who specialises in human-machine interface.

The World Landspeed Record is currently held by Andy Green driving Thrust SSC for Great Britain with a speed of 763mph (1228kph), set in October 1997 at Black Rock Desert, Nevada, USA and which set the first supersonic landspeed record.

The Jetblack team plan to challenge the World Landspeed Record in five or six years time and possible locations include India, the Arabian Gulf, USA and Australia.


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