Technology

Former Royal Marine Reservist Tests Jet Suit That 'Could Save Lives'

The jet suit allowed a casualty to be reached in just 90 seconds, as opposed to the 25 minutes it would have taken by foot.

A former Royal Marine reservist has successfully tested a jet suit which could fly a paramedic to an isolated casualty in just minutes.

The jet suit is the result of discussions between the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) and Gravity Industries, which is founded by Richard Browning.

Mr Browning, also the company's chief test pilot, demonstrated the jet suit in the Lake District and it received full marks from the ambulance service, which described it as "awesome".

The test involved Mr Browning flying from the valley bottom in Langdale, Cumbria, to a simulated casualty site on The Band, near Bowfell.

GNAAS said the casualty site would have taken around 25 minutes to reach by foot but Mr Browning arrived in his 1,050-brake horsepower jet suit in just 90 seconds.

The jet suit can reach speeds in excess of 80mph and is technically capable of reaching an altitude of 12,000ft, although for safety purposes it is flown lower.

Mr Browning said: "We are just scratching the surface in terms of what is possible to achieve with our technology.

"Emergency response is one of the areas Gravity are actively pursuing, alongside launching a new commercial training location at the world-renowned Goodwood Estate."

Mr Browning, a former Royal Marines reservist, carried out a trial of jet pack technology with the Royal Navy's HMS Dasher last summer.

Chief test pilot Richard Browning took part in a simulated casualty exercise near Bowfell in the Lake District using a jet suit (Picture: @GravityIndustries/YouTube).

He circled the vessel and landed successfully, saying he was pleased with "another milestone" in the development of the kit.

While in November 2019, he broke his own jet-suit speed-record, setting a new Guinness World Record after reaching speeds of more than 85mph at Brighton Pier. 

Andy Mawson, director of operations and paramedic at GNAAS, said the Lake District could be a possible location for a "jet suit paramedic".

He said the service's call-out data showed "dozens of patients every month within the complex but relatively small geographical footprint of the Lakes".

"We could see the need. What we didn't know for sure is how this would work in practice," he said.

"Well, we've seen it now and it is, quite honestly, awesome."

Mr Mawson added: "In a time in healthcare when we are exhausted with COVID and its effects, it's important to still push the boundaries.

"Our aircraft will remain a vital part of the emergency response in this terrain, as will the fantastic mountain rescue teams.

"This is about looking at supplementing those resources with something completely new."

The Gravity Jet Suit could enable the team to reach patients more quickly than ever, he said, adding: "In many cases this would ease the patient's suffering. In some cases, it would save their lives."

GNAAS responds to more than 1,500 callouts a year and relies on donations to fund its operations, which last year cost £5.3m.

Cover image: Chief test pilot Richard Browning demonstrated the jet suit in the Lake District (Picture: Great North Air Ambulance Service).