The Contenders: Jetblack

  • Length: 42.8ft
  • Weight: 8 Tons
  • Expected Speed: 1000mph
  • Horsepower: 81k
  • Driver: Stephen Hunt
  • Propulsion : 2x hybrid rockets, Rolls Royce Avon 206 (tbc)

Jetblack is New Zealand’s answer to the British dominance of the World Land Speed Record. The unconventional design will be tested and built over the next six years with the Kiwis hoping for a top speed of 1000mph. With the project only going public last month, much has been left undecided on the final shape and design of the car. The car will be powered by a single jet engine, partnered by twin hybrid rockets. Hybrid rockets have been used for a number of reasons, primarily to do with safety. Within a hybrid rocket, the fuel is contained within the combustion chamber in the form of a ported cylinder. The oxidizer is stored separately in a tank and when thrust is desired the valve is opened and vaporized oxidizer flows down the port where combustion takes place. A turbulent diffusion flame is established over the fuel surface . Heat transfer from the flame vaporizes the fuel sustaining combustion and the fuel surface regresses in the radial direction as it is consumed and combustion occurs. These rockets 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. The team are awaiting a jet engine to partner the hybrid rockets, however they are using a Rolls Royce Avon for┬ápreliminary tests, capable of producing 11,250 pounds of thrust.

Jetblack is the brainchild of Richard Nowland whose speed dream has moved forward since 2007 when he successfully bid for the 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. Richard Nowland fronts up the Jetblack team with Wing Commander Stephen Hunt taking the controls. Hunt is a highly experienced fast-jet pilot, instructor and flight test supervisor. He has flown the Harrier GR7 on many operational tours in Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo in day and night strike attack, offensive air support, and armed reconnaissance roles.

“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 Nowland. The next stage for the team is to find funds to develop and build the car as well as finding a suitable location to make their mach 1.3 runs.