Frankie Zapata spoke about his desire to leave France due to pressure from local authorities. Regulators threatened with a large fine and real term for the inventor, if he did not stop using the aircraft of his own production.
As Zapata explained, the French air gendarmerie made claims after one of the recent test flights on the Flyboard Air device. The authorities threatened the inventor with a fine or imprisonment for using an engine that was not approved for flying over urban areas.
According to the inventor, there is a high probability that Flyboard Air will never take off again in France. Zapata also criticized the actions of the authorities and spoke about future plans.
This is what they do with innovators in our country! Imagine my condition after we released 10 thousand flyboards with the words “made in France”. With great regret, I have to leave the country in order to continue working. I am really sad because I love France with my heart and soul.Frankie Zapata
The inventor promised to return if, after the elections in the country, his attitude changes. Zapata did not tell where he plans to move.
On March 14, the Aix-en-Provence Prosecutor’s Office announced that it had initiated an investigation into Zapata for “non-compliance with the minimum rules for operating the aircraft and flying without the necessary skills.”
The ministry stressed that the citizens of France complained about the flights of the inventor, but the restriction was temporary.
People have already complained about flying over bridges and near the settlements of Martigues with the help of a device with a noisy engine that emits a powerful stream of air several meters near the ground. The restriction is temporary, but even with a good reputation one cannot fly wherever it pleases, especially near the airport.Emmanuel Merlin, Deputy Prosecutor
In a conversation with Agence France-Press, a representative of the French Civil Aviation Directorate said that although Zapata had been in contact with government departments for the past six months, he ignored the requirements to conduct a Flyboard Air safety survey. In addition, Zapata Industries can still apply for all necessary checks.
In response, the inventor stated that previously the French authorities had no questions for the company: all departments assured of the legality of using the device, despite the fact that it has an indefinite legal status.
The situation with Frankie Zapata spawned a wave of discussion of French policy on innovation in the media and social networks: the inventor’s Facebook post has already gained almost 100,000 likes, and the petition in support of Change.org has collected more than 15,000 signatures. The editors of the French liberal website Contrepoints described the situation in the country in one phrase: “When an invention appears, Americans sell it, the Chinese copy it, the Europeans regulate it, and the French forbid it.”
Some netizens, on the contrary, spoke in favor of banning flights on the Flyboard Air.
If we have laws that guarantee public safety, this means that no one can do what they want at the expense of the safety of people.Unknown commentator on the site of the French newspaper Le Parisien
Flyboard Air is developed by Zapata Industries, owned by Zapata. In the press, the device was called a jet hoverboard or a flying board because of its relatively compact size and the possibility of stable autonomous flight at high speed. As Zapata himself stated, the device can rise to a height of up to three kilometers and reach speeds of up to 150 kilometers per hour.
On Flyboard Air, the inventor in 2016 set a Guinness record for flight range on the “Independent jet unit”. Then he flew a little more than two kilometers on the southern coast of France in three minutes in front of a crowd of spectators and examiners, and then landed smoothly.
In 2012, Frankie Zapata invented the Flyboard – water sports with a flying board, which is driven by the jet motion of water using a jet ski. In April 2016, the inventor published a video with the first test of a flying Flyboard Air board, which does not require connection to other devices for free flight.