Slick videos and Hollywood lighting introduced the Icon A5 light sport aircraft to the Oshkosh crowd on the eve of the opening of this year’s EAA AirVenture. ( Click here to watch videos from the unveiling.)
Little new information was released about the two-seat aircraft that has the backing of Eclipse Aviation’s CEO, Vern Raburn, a member of the Icon board of directors. The greater purpose of the lavish second unveiling (it was first announced in California) is to launch a “C” round of investment by venture capitalists that is needed to fund production in 2010. The new investment round begins in August.
Raburn introduced the Icon founder, Kirk Hawkins, to the crowd. Hawkins is a former airline pilot and Air Force fighter pilot.
It is an amphibious aircraft that can, as was demonstrated at the gala reception next to EAA headquarters, fold and unfold its own wings for highway trailering. While it has achieved first flight, the prototype did not have landing gear installed. The company claims 211 orders for the aircraft.
Backers said while the Icon founders want the aircraft to be “…credible for pilots,” they also want the aircraft to be “…accessible to nonpilots.” That may explain why the instrument panel looks much like that of a car. The aircraft will be equipped with an airframe parachute.
“Innovation creates new markets. That’s what the A5 is about,” Raburn said. “This creates tens of thousands of new pilots and aircraft owners.”
Sources watching the celebration said the first challenge the aircraft faces is meeting the weight restrictions for light sport aircraft seaplanes. Testing of the Icon is expected to continue through 2009.
At the moment customers are paying $5,000 to reserve a delivery position, although the first production Icon A5 is not expected until late 2010. Later customers will be asked to choose options. Due to weight restrictions, customers will either opt for landing gear but manually foldable wings, or no landing gear and motorized folding wings. Officials would not comment on the weight of the prototype that flew recently but said they are confident they can meet weight goals. There is a promise of a land-only model and ambitious goals for high-volume production and delivery.