The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its preliminary report regarding the fatal accident on May 8, 2017, that claimed the lives of two ICON employees at Lake Berryessa, California.
The ICON A5 aircraft was piloted by ICON’s Engineering Fellow and Chief Test Pilot Jon Karkow. Also aboard was ICON’s recently hired Director of Engineering, Cagri Sever. The flight was Sever’s first in the A5 and was set to be his introduction to the product on which he would be working at ICON.
“This was a devastating personal loss for the ICON team,” said Kirk Hawkins, ICON’s CEO and founder. “We didn’t just lose employees; we lost family members. Jon and Cagri were both passionate engineers who were inspired by the mission to make personal flying more accessible. Jon was an aviation legend who spent 21 years at Scaled Composites before dedicating the last 10 years of his career to ICON developing the A5, initially as ICON’s Lead Aero Engineer and then as Engineering Fellow. Cagri joined ICON as Director of Engineering a week prior to the accident after a distinguished rise through Ford Motor Company’s engineering organization. We will miss them both tremendously, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families.”
ICON officials noted they have been working with the NTSB to support its investigation. In addition to investigating the crash site, the NTSB obtained an eyewitness statement and has also reviewed the aircraft’s Flight Data Recorder (FDR) with ICON engineers.
The NTSB preliminary report included details from the eyewitness account indicating that the aircraft was flying slowly at about 50 feet over the water where it entered a steep, narrow canyon. The aircraft was then observed to increase power, pitch up, and enter a left turn in the canyon before it hit the side of the lake bank.
“We’re unsure why the plane flew into such a narrow canyon that had no outlet,” said Shane Sullivan, ICON’s Director of Flight. “We’re deeply saddened and fully committed to learning whatever we can from this tragic situation. Jon and Cagri were part of the ICON family.”
The NTSB will produce a final report, which typically takes several months, that will contain the facts and circumstances related to the accident, along with a determination of the probable cause.
ICON initially suspended all flight operations of the A5 fleet immediately after the accident. Flight operations have now resumed following the NTSB preliminary report.
Memorials for Karkow and Sever are being planned.