EAA chairman Jack Pelton and EAA Young Eagles chairman and aerobatic pilot Sean Tucker took delivery of the first Icon A5 light-sport aircraft for use in the Young Eagles program. Delivery of the aircraft, S/N 001, took place in a pavilion packed with Young Eagles and bystanders July 20 in the opening hours of EAA AirVenture 2015 in Oshkosh, Wis.
Delivery came after both Pelton and Tucker flew the aircraft. Pelton said the aircraft “not only exceeded my expectations but will exceed the expectations of everyone who has been watching the project.” Pelton praised its handling and safety but said the aircraft will help play a role in sparking new interest in the industry. “This is what general aviation needs,” he said. “We’re losing pilots, We’re losing innovation. [With the A5] it is all right here.”
The first A5 was granted an S-LSA airworthiness certificate following an FAA audit in June at the company’s Tehachapi, Calif. facility. Delivery culminated a nearly decade-long development program that the company said came in response to the creation of the light-sport category. Powered by a Rotax 912 engine, the two-place aircraft has foldable wings for ease of storage and can land on runway or water. It was designed with spin-resistant technology, and offers with an angle-of-attack indicator and complete airplane parachute.
Company CEO Kirk Hawkins said the aircraft was designed with five design goals, none of which involved speed, range or payload. Instead it was developed to be easy to fly, incorporate new safety features, be fun, look “beautiful” and be versatile.
Tucker added that the aircraft accomplishes those goals. “It teaches you to fly,” he said. “It teaches you to be a better pilot.”
Icon claims a backlog of more than 1,250 orders and is ramping up production at its new 140,000-sq-ft facility in Vacaville, Calif. The facility has capacity to build up to 500 A5s a year. Icon also lowered the deposit for the $189,000 aircraft from $5,000 to $2,000 this week during the Oshkosh show.