Production begins on ICON A5

Production of the ICON A5 started in December 2012 with the completion of the first tooling master, according to the most recent newsletter from ICON Aircraft, the Los Angeles company that is developing the amphibious Light-Sport Aircraft.

ICON’s composite supplier, Cirrus Aircraft, will use the composite tooling produced from this master to manufacture production A5 horizontal tail skins, company officials reported. With the recent release of drawings for the wing and fuselage masters, the rest of the major airframe skins are now in fabrication as well. The master molds for the wing skins were delivered on schedule to Cirrus Aircraft in the first week of February.


Technicians lay up the carbon fiber tooling that Cirrus Aircraft will use to manufacture horizontal tail skins for the production A5 in their Grand Forks, N.D, facility

In the past few months, ICON has also advanced all other major systems of the A5, company officials report.

Various components of the avionics package, including the angle of attack (AoA) and attitude indicator instruments, are currently undergoing pre-production manufacturing and testing. “AoA indicators significantly advance light aircraft safety but are not in widespread use in general aviation,” officials said in the newsletter. “Therefore, ICON is using a proprietary AoA system, with significant milestones in the development and component testing process being recently completed.”

Numerous other components of the avionics and aircraft systems are in the midst of testing or have been recently tested, including the radio and intercom; antennae, including types and locations; propeller type and performance; and brakes.

With the industrial design of external surfaces complete, ICON’s designers have been finishing the details of the interior, company officials note. Class A surfacing of the interior is largely complete with several data releases imminent, including seats, instrument panel, glare shield, and center console.

ICON’s design and engineering teams have been optimizing the smallest details of the A5, particularly around “human factors” — how people interact with the airplane, officials report in the newsletter. “No detail was too small to escape scrutiny, from placing seatbelt mounts for maximum comfort and safety of occupants to optimizing the throw and arc of the throttle lever so it is intuitive and natural to use to refining the font and markings on the instrument faces to optimally balance legibility and aesthetics,” officials said.

The horizontal tail tip removal system is another area in which ICON’s industrial design and engineering teams have collaborated closely in recent months. The tips of the horizontal tail are removable in order for the A5 to fit within the Department of Transportation’s over-the-road width limit when the aircraft is being trailered. The system has been designed around a sliding action with positive locking pin, which is both user-friendly and serves to ensure that the tip of the tail is securely installed, company officials said. A cockpit display, similar to those used in cars to indicate when doors are ajar, is used to inform the pilot when the horizontal tail tips are not installed, or not installed correctly.

Over the past few months, ICON’s engineers also performed many tests of various parts of the aircraft to confirm the validity of their analysis. ICON’s technicians built test articles of composite wing and horizontal tail components, which were statically tested to assess their strength before final data release of tooling to manufacturers. Usability testing was also conducted on the wingfold mechanism, and the main landing gear legs have undergone both static and drop testing to ensure that the gear can withstand accidental hard landings.

Company officials also report that 310 sales were made in 2012, a 45% increase over 2011. Position list now tops 1,050.

Teams are now developing the ICON Sport Pilot Training Program and preparing this spring’s launch of the ICON Owners Center, a website dedicated to delivering A5 production updates, order processing, and communication.

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  1. Pete says

    So, what’s the status of the weight exemption? They are starting the production, but it is still unknown what gross weight they are targeting. Isn’t it a little bit insane?

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