Boys and Their Toys: The Icon A5
"Boys don't grow up, their toys just get bigger and more expensive."
Featured in all major aviation and non-aviation magazines, like Flying Magazine, The Verge and Bloomberg, the Icon A5 has gotten the attention of everyone in aviation. With the recently introduced Light Sport Aircraft category by the FAA, the market for those aircraft has been expanding rapidly. Icon Aircraft, the company behind the A5, has played a big role in this. The company was founded in 2006 by Kirk Hawkins, ex-US Air Force pilot, and Steen Strand after graduating from Stanford Business School. Icon's headquarters and production facility is currently located in Vacaville, northern California, about 50 miles northeast of San Francisco.
The A5 is one of the most well designed and sexy looking light aircraft I have seen hit the marked in the past few years. Built with carbon fibre, retractable landing gear and a 34.8-foot wingspan, the A5 has an empty weight of around 1.000 lbs. There's place for two pilots, which brings the maximum take-off weight to just over 1.500 lbs. The Rotax 912 engine, producing 100 horsepower, is connected to a pusher propeller, which gives the pilots an unobstructed view forward and pushes the plane to a maximum speed of 110 mph. The engine gives the plane a range of 450 miles on 20 miles of gas, which can be both aviation or normal car fuel.Icon's mission is to bring freedom, pleasure and adventure to everyone who ever dreamed of flying.
Icon's mission is to bring freedom, pleasure and adventure to everyone who ever dreamed of flying. Because of the new Light Sport Aircraft category Icon could re-invent flying by focussing more on the consumer experience. Icon wants to democratise aviation in the same way brands like Apple, BMW or Ducatti did it: by combining excellent technology with world class design. They don't only want to give their customers practical advantages, they also want to inspire them. The A5 delivers an exciting and safe flying experience in a design that conveys beauty, performance and even more importantly, fun.
This quote in an article in Bloomberg described the A5 design just perfectly: "Lean and angular as a hawk, it looks like a marriage of a Piper M-class and a Jet Ski, with a little bit of sports car thrown in." When you look at it, you really see it as a flying sports car. Icon wants to appear to people who would normally buy something like a Ferrari, but instead of going for a Sunday ride, they can go for a Sunday flight from a nearby lake or airstrip.
A high goal for Icon is that there's a very intuitive user interface. Therefore, the cockpit of the A5 was designed with simplified control panels, analog gauges and a simple GPS screen. They have really distilled flying down to the basics, but without losing the advantages of modern cockpit technology. Some people like to say the cockpit has more resemblance with the inside of a sportscar than with an airplane, but personally, I think it's the perfect marriage of both.
Hawkins wanted to make this plane as simple as possible. Since 40% of the over 1.250 deposit holders are nonpilots, the plane was built with ease of use and safety in mind. A few of those extra layers of safety that were added to the design are the AoA (Angle of Attack) indicators in the cockpit, which are not often found in GA planes, and a new spin resistant airframe to keep flying safe, even when stalling the airplane. Oh, and did we mention you can fold up the wings, put in on a trailer in your garage and take it wherever you want?
Oh, and did we mention you can fold up the wings, put in on a trailer in your garage and take it wherever you want?
The A5 starts at $197.000, with additional options up to $50.000. To date, Icon has received more than 1.500 preorders, which represent more than $400 million in sales. When you place the $5.000 deposit today, you’d see delivery of your Icon in about three years according to the company.
If you don't really have the funds to buy a real A5, Icon worked together with ParkZone to create an R/C model of the plane, for about one thousandth of the price. Of course, you'll miss the fun of flying the real thing!
So, you can say what you want about the amphibious Icon A5, but it is one sexy looking airplane. In my opinion, the perfect toy!
All photos by Icon Aircraft, unless stated otherwise