OSHKOSH — The FAA has granted ICON Aircraft’s petition for exemption to allow an increased takeoff weight for ICON’s A5 amphibious Light Sport Aircraft (LSA).
The exemption, up to a maximum of 1,680 pounds, would accommodate a Spin-Resistant Airframe (SRA) that enables the A5 to better avoid loss-of-control scenarios due to stall/spins, company officials said on opening day of AirVenture.
The company announced in February 2012 that the A5 had been successfully tested to and met the full FAA Part 23 standard for spin resistance. The FAA exemption will allow the A5 to become the first conventional production aircraft to meet this safety standard, ICON officials said.
In its Grant of Exemption No. 10829 issued to ICON Aircraft, the FAA stated, “The combined design features and SRA concepts incorporated into the ICON A5 design . . . are recognized by the FAA as significant safety enhancements.”
“The FAA determined that granting relief from the MTOW (Maximum Takeoff Weight) for LSA for this specific safety enhancement is in the public interest and is also consistent with the FAA’s goals of increasing safety for small planes,” the exemption reads.
“We’re excited the FAA has recognized the importance of this accomplishment to the future of aviation safety,” said ICON Aircraft Founder and CEO Kirk Hawkins. “For decades now, statistics have shown that loss of control due to stall/spin situations is the leading cause of pilot-related fatal accidents in General Aviation. ICON spent an extraordinary amount of time and resources going well beyond the call of duty to achieve this important safety milestone.”
The FAA’s decision enables ICON to continue with A5 manufacturing, currently scheduled for first production aircraft in spring 2014.
While the FAA’s published guidance allows up to 120 days to issue a decision on any exemption request,, ICON’s exemption request was not approved until 14 months after it was filed in May 2012. Faced with the delay, ICON was forced to move forward with an interim design weight that still guaranteed the safety benefits of a Spin-Resistant Airframe.
As a result, the initial production A5 will have a max gross takeoff weight of 1,510 lbs, an 80-pound increase over the standard 1,430-pound amphibious LSA maximum.
“We had to make some tough engineering decisions in order to keep the program moving forward given the FAA delay,” said ICON VP of Engineering Matthew Gionta. “But in the end, we got to a great place and are on the verge of delivering one of the safest, most user-friendly Light Sport Aircraft possible today.”
For more information: ICONAircraft.com