One of Martin Aircraft's jetpacks made its maiden manned flight in Canterbury this week, Television New Zealand reports.

The Christchurch company, the network reported, limited the jetpack's altitude to eight metres because it didn't have a parachute fitted.

Martin Aircraft, which posted an annual loss of $5.2 million in the year through June, has said it expects to make the first commercial deliveries of its jetpack next year.

The public are expected to get their first glimpse of the machine in action at the Warbirds Over Wanaka airshow next March.

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The jetpack can be flown by a pilot or remote control and potential uses include search and rescue, military, recreational, and commercial applications. It can fly for 30 minutes at up to 74km/h at an altitude of 1000m.

Martin Aircraft this month signed a memorandum of understanding at the Dubai Air Show with the directorate of civil defence in Dubai for the intended future delivery of manned and unmanned jetpacks, simulators, spare parts, support services and pilot and engineer training for civil defence and fire service personnel.

It covers an initial tranche of up to 20 jetpacks and two simulators with final details subject to agreeing a supply contract, it said.

The shares advanced A5.5c to A68.5c (73.9c) on the ASX on the back of the deal. The company debuted on the ASX in February, after raising A$27 million to fund the commercialisation of its Martin Jetpack in an initial public offering at A40c a share.

Three months later, its founder Glenn Martin resigned suddenly.

Martin, who began developing the jetpack in his Christchurch garage in 1981, said at the time that a difference in opinion over the company's path to commercialisation led to his departure from the board.