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Mon, Jul 28, 2008

ICON Aircraft Unveils A5 Amphib Sport Plane

Plane Will Make Public Debut Monday Morning

Startup light-sport aircraft manufacturer ICON unveiled its original prototype aircraft at Oshkosh during a media-only reception Sunday, ahead of a scheduled public unveiling Monday morning at 10:30 AM on AeroShell Square.

As ANN has reported, the A5 is an amphibious two seat aircraft which touts a wing design that folds back at a flip of the switch. This takes about 20 seconds to accomplish and allows for ease of transportation on the road as well as in the air.

The company previously hosted a lavish private unveiling back in June in Los Angeles, CA. ICON's marketing department also pulled out all the stops for Sunday's event.

Going for that ever-popular 'shock and awe' value, the company attempted to evoke the inspiration and spirit of sport aviation (and even succeeded somewhat, tough to do before a crowd of jaded aviation journalists.) As CEO Kirk Hawkins said, "ICON is here to bring the sport and adventure back in flying."

With a base purchase price of $139,000, the A5 is meant to attract those customers that may not have been able to afford the freedom of flying.

"Innovation creates new markets, and that's what ICON has done," said Eclipse Aviation founder Vern Raburn, who sits on the board of directors for ICON.

So what do we know now that we didn't know six weeks ago? Well, for those who are interested, some new specs have come out that are also available on their website. ICON publicizes a max gross weight of 1430 lbs -- the company gains an extra 110 lbs of wiggle-room under light sport rules by virtue of the A5's amphibious nature -- and useful load of 430 to 530 lbs, depending on options. They also touts a fuel capacity of 20 gallons, and a true airspeed of 105kts at sea level.

ICON says the A5 also offers a conservative range of 300NM, and the ability to remove the cockpit windows so the pilot can really enjoy the thrill of aviation.

Alas, what we don't know yet is also vital. Because this aircraft is new, future test flights still need to be completed. Therefore, critical flight data like stall speeds need to be determined. Parachute testing (which is an option) also needs to be accomplished. Because of this, the form and functionality of this aircraft can only be speculated at this time. What the future holds for ICON remains to be seen.

Although ICON has a way to go before their aircraft actually hits the market -- the company targets customer availability sometime in late 2010 -- you can still pre-order one at Oshkosh. As of now, ICON says it has orders placed for 211 aircraft.

FMI: www.iconaircraft.com

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