The Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) sector is aviation’s newest and most prolific with numerous outstanding aircraft available from Europe and the United States.
Europeans seemed to own the category at first because regulations on the other side of the Atlantic permitted companies to fully build very similar aircraft. When the FAA caught up by releasing the Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft regulation in 2004, a tsunami of foreign models arrived on American shores.
In more recent years, U.S. companies made the transition from supplying aircraft kits to manufacturing ready-to-fly models. The two activities are very distinct business models, so the transition took some years.
With both sets of skills now well developed, many American companies are providing have-it-your-way airplanes in either kit form or factory built. To the FAA’s credit, the regulation is surprisingly accommodative of such innovative methods.
As we move deeper into the second decade of LSA, what might be called third generation designs are emerging and a number of these are something to behold.
A third-gen design is one created specifically to fit in the new category and one of the best known examples is Icon Aircraft’s A5 LSA seaplane. I got the chance to fly the production version at this year’s AirVenture in Oshkosh. [Read more…]
On opening day of AirVenture, ICON Aircraft CEO and Founder Kirk Hawkins handed the keys of the first customer A5 to EAA Young Eagles Chairman and aerobatic pilot Sean Tucker, who accepted the aircraft on behalf of the organization, alongside EAA Chairman Jack Pelton.
The aircraft, Aircraft Serial Number 001 (ASN-001), will participate in Young Eagles flights that allow children to experience aviation, often for the first time. [Read more…]
This is the first A5 built from the production design, with production tooling, and using production methods and components. ESN-1 was built over a five-month period, from January to June of 2014, and successfully completed its first flight on July 7 in Tehachapi, California. This aircraft is one of three that will be used to verify performance and complete FAA approval prior to the start of customer deliveries in May 2015.
LOS ANGELES — ICON Aircraft will relocate to the City of Vacaville in Northern California, located approximately 50 miles northeast of San Francisco.
Beginning in the first quarter of 2015, the company will begin operating in a 140,000-square-foot facility adjacent to the Vacaville airport, also known as the Nut Tree Airport.
FAA officials have informed Icon Aircraft that a decision on the company’s request for an exemption to the Light-Sport Aircraft weight limitations for its amphibious Icon A5 won’t be made until the end of the year, according to a report at AOPA.org. Icon Aircraft founder Kirk Hawkins asked for an exemption in May to increase the weight limit to 1,680 pounds. Accounting for the weight increase is a cuffed wing that is aerodynamically spin resistant, according to Icon officials, who say this increases safety for Sport Pilots.
OSHKOSH — Icon Aircraft has reduced the deposit for an A5 position from $5,000 to $2,000 as part of an AirVenture special. The offer will apply to any order placed in person or online during the week of the show (July 23-29). The company also said it will donate $100 to the Seaplane Pilots Association for every deposit taken during the promotion.
On Memorial Day I had a chance to visit Icon Aircraft and spend some time with CEO Kirk Hawkins. We met seven years ago — just after the Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) rule was released — near the beginning of his ambitions to create an entirely clean-sheet LSA amphibian.
Recently, Icon released a video to tout its spin resistant airframe (SRA). I reported work toward this earlier and it’s been some time coming. Why the wait? From my first-hand experience with Cirrus Design and the development of the SR20, I have a bit of inside knowledge on this subject.