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Icon announces A5 improvementsIcon announces A5 improvements

Icon Aircraft announced Oct. 12 the delivery of the first Model Year 2018 A5, calling it the start of a “new production phase,” with the pace of future deliveries expected to increase quickly, and soon.

Icon A5. Photo by Chris Rose.

The Oct. 12 online posting by the company noted the first delivery of the improved version of the A5, with modifications based on 6,000 hours of accumulated flight time in 21 aircraft that the company has operated for flight training and demonstration. The company announced six customer deliveries in July, with more than 1,800 deposits collected to date, according to the company website.

The listed improvements include a nose gear that is easier to steer; instruments that are better illuminated and more legible; a simpler and lighter oil cooler; an improved canopy with no airspeed limit for windows-out operation; and modifications to the rudder pedals, landing gear actuators, and access panels.

"This aircraft marks the start of a new production phase of the A5 as we resume volume production and ramp up rates to deliver customer aircraft on a larger scale,” Icon Founder and CEO Kirk Hawkins said in the online update.

Icon delivered the first A5 in 2015, and the aircraft earned admiration for its flying qualities, being equally comfortable on land and sea, and fun to fly. But the company’s paperwork was far less popular, particularly an initial attempt to limit liability and cap the airframe life in a controversial purchase agreement, the publication of which was followed by a production halt, layoffs, and subsequent revisions to that purchase contract. While initially having planned to partner with Cirrus to help build the all-composite airframe, Icon announced in September 2016 that the A5 would be built entirely at the company’s own composite production facility in Mexico.

Icon’s October announcement reflects the same timeline that the company described in broad strokes in July, that deliveries would gradually increase for the balance of the year and ramp up significantly in 2018.

Icon's staff has also had to cope with personal tragedy during the effort to bring the A5 to mass production: The NTSB published a final report in August on the accident that killed two Icon employees, Cagri Sever and renowned aircraft designer and test pilot Jon Karkow, determining that the crash was the tragic result of Karkow mistakenly flying into the wrong canyon and running out of room to turn around.

Topics: Light Sport Aircraft, Seaplane

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