Automotive Design Cues Throughout Innovative Design
There's another new light sport aircraft manufacturer aiming to
capture a share of an already crowded market... but this one does
'sport' some interesting ideas. ICON Aircraft officially introduced
the company and its inaugural product, the ICON A5, at a private
unveiling Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
The two-seat amphibious sport plane features retractable landing
gear for flying off land and water, plus several patent-pending
technologies -- including folding wings that allow the plane to be
easily stored and towed on the road with a trailer.
"ICON Aircraft is bringing the freedom, fun and adventure back
into aviation by building aircraft that evoke an emotional response
like great sports cars do," founder and CEO Kirk Hawkins told a
gathering of hundreds of guests that included astronaut Buzz
Aldrin. "The sport is now back in flying."
The ICON A5 features a 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 a
sports car-like cockpit with MP3 port, and patent-pending Seawing
platform for easy access and docking on water.
"This is the beginning of a new era by bringing in, not
thousands, not tens of thousands, but potentially hundreds of
thousands of new pilots to aviation," said Vern Raburn, founder and
CEO of Eclipse Aviation.
A team of automotive product designers contributed to the design
of the ICON A5. A full-scale prototype is scheduled to begin flight
tests this summer under the guidance of ICON's engineering team,
which is comprised of former top engineers at Scaled Composites,
producer of specialty aircraft like the Voyager, GlobalFlyer, and X
The ICON A5 is designed to be predictable and easy-to-fly, with
safety features such as a patent-pending Propeller Guard, Wing
Angle of Attack indicator, and quick-deploying ICON Complete
Airplane Parachute, or ICAP.
"The ICON A5 is extremely well suited for the sport pilot, but
at the same time I think it appeals to the mass market," said pilot
Kirby Chambliss, a five-time US Aerobatics Champion and Red Bull
Air Race champion.
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.