Sales of the ICON A5 continue to grow, recently passing position #520, while the amphibious Light Sport Aircraft has surpassed 175 flight tests as the engineering team continues to advance toward the final production design.
This was just part of an update recently released by the company, which has not only captured the attention of the GA world, but also the non-flying public, with appearances in two major motion films, “Iron Man 2” and “Knight and Day,” as well as stories on television news programs and in the mainstream media.
In the midst of all this, the company also unveiled its new flight training simulators at this summer’s AirVenture in Oshkosh. “In addition to being a blast to fly, the simulators are an early version of a valuable tool we intend to use as part of our future flight training program,” company officials said, noting development of the simulators continues.
Also at Oshkosh, the company unveiled two major design enhancements: Eliminating the wing flaps to simplify pilot operations, and committing to a spin-resistant design, which includes the addition of wing cuffs.
“Although these enhancements are not required by the FAA or ASTM,” says Kirk Hawkins, ICON’s CEO, “this is yet another example of ICON raising the bar to not only make the A5 one of the coolest sport planes on the planet— but to make it simultaneously one of the safest and easiest to fly. This is absolutely the right move for the customer and worth the extra work to get there.”
While general aviation is inherently safe, when accidents do occur, it is the stall/spin scenarios that are responsible for 13.7% of all fatal accidents, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). Of these accidents, it is slow-speed maneuvering prior to landing that is the most common accident scenario. Making the A5 spin resistant will help ensure that the pilot maintains control of the aircraft at all times, even if the airplane is inadvertently stalled, company officials said.
“Spin resistance is arguably the most significant safety improvement we could add to the already docile-handling A5,” said Matthew Gionta, ICON’s CTO and VP of Engineering. One safety feature already on the A5 is the Angle of Attack (AOA) indicator (standard on modern fighter jets) that shows the pilot at any given time exactly how the wing is flying, and most importantly, how close they are to a stall. “When combined with the AOA indicator, spin resistance adds a second level of safety where, in the event of a stall, the A5 remains wings-level and the pilot does not lose control of the aircraft.”
Removal of the flaps is the other improvement to the A5. Flaps are typically used to reduce an aircraft’s stall speed for landing. However, regulations already require that LSAs stall no faster than 45 knots without the use of flaps. Given this FAA requirement, combined with the LSA maximum speed restriction, ICON eliminated the A5 flaps since they offer marginal benefit for their increased complexity.
“When an airplane can function equally well with less complexity, the result is increased safety,” said Gionta. “The pilot of an A5 will never have to remember to set the flaps for landing, whether on water or land. This is a classic example where simplicity is elegance, and that translates directly into a safer aircraft for our pilots.”
For more information: ICONAircraft.com