Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) manufacturer ICON Aircraft completed Phase I flight testing of its amphibious ICON A5 on Feb. 6. A series of 27 flights were made and data gathered across a wide range of speeds, gross weights, centers of gravity (CG), flap settings, altitudes and sea states, the company has reported.
“The A5 prototype demonstrated exceptional water stability and handling, easy takeoff and landing performance, as well as light control forces with responsive, yet docile flight characteristics,” reported lead aero engineer and test pilot Jon Karkow. “While there are areas to be further optimized, as with any flight test program, the A5, over-all, performed as designed and is a blast to fly,” he said.
A variety of FAA and ASTM LSA certification requirements were verified durim the flights, including stall speeds and low-speed handling parameters. The A5 was designed to be flown with the side windows removed and the prototype was test flown with the windows out with no appreciable change in aircraft performance or cockpit comfort.
“The rigorous flight testing and careful development of A5 is progressing well,” said Kirk Hawkins, founder and CEO of ICON Aircraft. “While the successful completion of the Phase I Flight Testing marks an important milestone in that program, there is still a tremendous amount of work yet to be done.”
With initial testing completed and a baseline now established, the A5 will enter Phase II Flight Testing to refine and optimize the aerodynamics and handling qualities, Hawkins said. Flight tests are scheduled to continue throughout 2009.
The ICON A5 is a 2-seat, amphibious sport plane with a high-strength, light-weight carbon fiber airframe, intuitive automotive-style cockpit, complete airplane parachute system, and folding wings allowing it to be trailered behind an SUV. The A5 has an estimated top speed of 120 mph and can fly 300 miles on either automobile gas or aviation gas at 17 mpg, according to the manufacturer.
“The A5 was created through the combined efforts of top automobile designers from the likes of BMW, Porsche, and Nissan together with some of the world’s best composite aircraft engineers from Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites, creators of aircraft like the Voyager, GlobalFlyer, and X Prize winning SpaceShipOne,” Hawkins said.
The estimated base price of the ICON A5 is $139,000 and orders are now being accepted at www.iconaircraft.com with a refundable $5,000 deposit. Deliveries are scheduled to begin late in 2010.
For information: http://www.iconaircraft.com