Yesterday, I had an exchange of comments with one of the readers which prompted me to send her a link to the ICON A5 aircraft. If you have never seen this new airplane, and you are a pilot who likes the water, before you read any further strap on your seat belt so you don’t fall out of your chair in front of your computer.
(Fou nd at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGg7G9ck44A.)
Let me start by saying I am in no way affiliated with the company; I’ve not flown the airplane, although I would love to; and I don’t receive any royalties or kickbacks for what I write about the airplane. What I will say is from reading the literature and watching the company videos, this is one very impressive light sport aircraft.
By the numbers – this is a two-seat aircraft capable of going just about anywhere. With a maximum takeoff weight of 1430 pounds with an empty weight of 900 to 1000 pounds depending on options, this gives the airplane a useful load of 430 to 530 pounds. Fuel takes up 120 pounds of this weight consisting of 20 gallons of either avgas or auto gas.
The maximum speed of the aircraft is 105 knots and the company reports the range of the airplane as 300 nautical miles. Takeoff and landing distance is 750 feet.
Power to weight ratio is fairly good. The power to weight ratio for the ICON is 14.3 pounds per horsepower; in comparison, a new Cessna 172 with a gross weight of 2550 pounds equipped with a 180 horsepower Lycoming has a power to weight ratio of 14.1 pounds per horsepower, only slightly better. The powerplant for the ICON is the Rotax 912 ULS producing 100 horsepower.
The one great feature about the new ICON A5 is the folding wing. Owner-pilots can trailer their airplane allowing them to take it back and forth between home and the airport, or nearest boat ramp. This eliminates a hefty hangar fee, which will allow the owner to fly more hours each month.
Kirk Hawkins, the CEO of ICON Aircraft, and his design team invested a lot of thought in creating the airframe. First, they instituted quite a few advanced safety features. For one, they used a good sized wing combined with an airfoil allowing for a safe, low-speed handling capability. This also allows for a fairly low stall speed.
One option available to new owners is the ICON Complete Airplane Parachute recovery system. They also designed their own propeller guard system which they are in the process of applying for a patent.
In the cockpit, the airplane is roomy and designed like a sports car. It has the feel of a late model car which was no accident. The design team wanted to make new pilots feel as though flying the ICON would be similar to driving, thus making the transition to flying easier.
If you have the opportunity to study the airplane either over the Internet or in person, check it out. The web address for the company is http://iconaircraft.com. Keep an open mind, and also remember the airplane is new. I am sure as with all new airplanes, the team will have a few bugs to work out.
However, from the literature and early test flights, it appears as though they have done their homework well.
© 2010 J. Clark