Amphibious Plane Completes First Flight
Upstart light sport aircraft manufacturer ICON Aircraft
announced Tuesday the company successfully flew a prototype version
of its ICON A5 amphibious sport plane on July 9. ICON's team of
engineers completed the full-scale prototype flight at an
undisclosed lake location in California.
For a first flight of an unproven design, the initial test
regimen was surprisingly thorough. ICON Lead Aero Engineer and Test
Pilot Jon Karkow conducted the test flight, which demonstrated the
aircraft's performance and flying characteristics during take-off,
landing, and low-speed maneuvering flight. In addition, the
aircraft's performance during water operations was evaluated.
Karkow is an experienced test pilot who has flown first flights
for many notable aircraft, including the world-record setting
Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer flown by the late Steve Fossett.
"Everything went as well as an initial test flight possibly
could go; so I was very pleased," said Karkow, a member of the
Society of Experimental Test Pilots. "The aircraft flew
exceptionally well and met or exceeded our design expectations. The
A5 seems to be a great aircraft right out of the box."
The full-scale prototype aircraft is scheduled to undergo
several phases of test flights over the next year before the design
is finalized. After flight testing, a pre-production model will be
built to verify all the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and
ASTM compliance standards before entering production in late
"I' m proud of what this team has accomplished," said ICON VP of
Engineering Matthew Gionta, who served as Mission Director of the
flight. "I' ve been in the business of designing and building
aircraft my entire career and I've never worked with a more
talented team. When you get bright people pulling hard toward a
common goal, then really incredible things start to happen. The
ICON A5 is an example of this. It's really an amazing
Introduced during a flashy invitation-only ceremony
unveiling last month, the ICON A5 two-seat sport plane
features an amphibious design with retractable landing gear for
flying off land and water, plus several patent-pending technologies
highlighted by folding wings that allow the plane to be easily
stored and towed on the road with a trailer. The company plans to
unveil the plane to the general public at AirVenture 2008.
Designed to be predictable and easy-to-fly, the ICON A5 features
a lightweight carbon fiber airframe and is powered by a 100-hp
Rotax 912 ULS engine that runs on both auto and aviation gasoline
at an estimated top speed of 120 mph. Besides the folding wings,
more unique features specific to the ICON A5 include an sports
car-like cockpit with MP3 port, and patent-pending Seawing platform
for easy access and docking on water.
The standard ICON A5 model is amphibious with retractable
landing gear and manual folding wings. The estimated price of the
ICON A5 standard model is $139,000 and orders are now being
accepted with a refundable $5,000 deposit. Aircraft production and
initial deliveries are scheduled to begin in late 2010.