Intended for novice fliers who have received the FAA's new, more accessible sport-pilot license, the A5 is a low-cost, seaworthy, easy-to-fly, easy-to-store aircraft that aims to bring personal flight to the masses. This sleek floatplane has folding wings that make it compact enough to tow home and stow in your garage. To make it simple for even the greenest pilots to fly, the A5 uses a sports-car-like instrument panel with GPS navigation and minimal instrumentation. The 100-horsepower engine can run on unleaded gas, so it can refuel at most marinas. The plane took its first flight in July, and Icon expects to begin delivering them to customers by late 2010. $139,000; iconaircraft.com
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Beautiful thing, isn't it? But the already in production and a fine aircraft, the Searey amphibian does much the same and can be fitted out with moving map GPS and an autopilot for about half the cost of this. What's worth the extra bucks?
After more study of the specs and performance figures on this attractive machine I must adjust my previous comment and say that the Searey in my opinion anyway, disregarding the fact that it's half the price of this, is superior in practically all respects. It has a two part sliding cockpit canopy that can be fully opened in flight as opposed to the locked in style sealed cockpit only option, the tail dragger configuration of the Searey is more sensible and durable than a complex tricycle gear this plane sports. Add the 750ft. takeoff run to the Seareys 250ft. requirement with the same motor and to me anyway nicer, more practical design and this thing doesn't stand a chance. Unless a buyer does absolutely no research at all before plunking down a whole lot of money for an inferior design. And I didn't get around to the materials used in construction. Does this offer a Kevlar hull as an inexpensive option to fiberglass, that I'm only guessing is this planes main structural material? Good article, pretty toy, but it looks like they copied the Searey and built it without it's most compelling features, made the interior look like a car and slapped a buck and a half price tag on it. Thumbs down, but I wouldn't mind having one if there was no Searey available.
I have to disagree with gulfstreamtec on a couple of major points. His emotional rant alone led me to view and study both aircraft and in the process decide that the Icon A5 is really worth the extra cost.
Looking at the design alone, you can see one very significant difference: the Icon A5 has no visible wing struts beyond a pair of very short arches near the fuselage to help support the weight of the airplane while in flight. The curvature and shape of these struts is such that they create almost no drag which allows for cleaner and more efficient airflow during flight and likely better economy at the same power settings.
The Icon also seems to be more easily folded for trailering and will take up less space in your garage as a result; something the Searey seems completely incapable of achieving.
Finally, while I am certain the hull and fuselage of the Icon A5 is significantly heavier than the Searey, these would also give the plane a feeling of more solid construction and security in flight; something a sport flyer pilot might want if he is carrying a passenger who could be expected to have some fear of flying in a much-less-rigid-appearing Searey.
In summary, it really will depend on who wants to do what in their sporter. While the 'tail-dragger' design and light weight of the Searey will likely appeal to the 'ultralight' group, the Icon A5 is more likely to appeal to the 'sports car' crowd.
the whole point of this airplane is that it could fit in your garage. you don't need a hangar for it.
Without rereading the article I know the Searey burns a maximum of 4 gallons of super auto fuel with the turbo engine and 3.5 with the lower powered and non turbo model this plane sports. And the Searey also has foldable wings. As for drag, both aircraft have similiar top speeds so I don't see where drags a signigifant factor. I'm not knocking this airplane. The carbon fiber is nice but so is the Kevlar offered in the Searey. I've not had the opportunity to fly this plane but watching the video and comparing it to my experience in a Searey forces me to judge this a poor second. The takeoff run alone is all the argument I need. And with the turbo the Searey easily hops 12,000ft. mountains. As a high hour commercial pilot my experience with these go karts of the sky is something new and pretty fantastic. There's another like sized amphibian that carries 3, The Catalina something or other, but like this one has a closed in feeling once you lower the canopy, where again the Searey is much better. These things are pretty tiny and being able to just push back the whole canopy from the windscreen back in flight really enhances the experience, provides great 'hang out the door' photo advantages (and if you live near some desert or wide open spaces a really cool bomber with old 5lb. bags of flour!) and also makes it a cool little speedboat that makes tight tight turns at 35mph, which I'd guess the 'waterwing' design would prohibit. I'm starting to sound like a salesman for Searey but I assure you I am not. And on the last point. The price for this doesn't include the automatic folding wings, it's an option and an expensive one I'd bet. And probably complicated, something to avoid in this little type of sport machine. Two people can hand fold the wings on the Searey in about 10 minutes if practiced. I've watched it but never done it. Most people that own these things park them, either at home if they have the takeoff space, 1/3 that of this one with the Searey or leave them at fields. Folding wings, manual or automatic sound better on paper than in practice. It is beautiful but I maintain that the Searey, at half the price is the winner. It's already had a 10 or so year very successful head start too. I do find it a bit hard to understand how or why some good designers would go to market with this when they must know of the established Searey and it must be enthusiasm or something that makes them think this is a serious competitor to it, unless there are people who do no shopping at all when looking for something like this.
I did forget to mention, for the benefit of the first comment that the Searey only is about 200lbs. lighter I believe. In flight I have found the Searey surprisingly solid for a plane of it's size and weight. And with an aluminum tube spine actually more solid feeling than a Cessna 152 and a Piper Traumahawk. I'm kidding about the Piper Tomahawk, which I guess earned it's name to some but I actually like the things. It takes some doing to spin a 152 whereas the tomahawk complies more easily. To some pilots distain, since spin training went out of license requirements, to the often fatal realization by some people that any plane can be spun. And also fun and good training for unusual attitude emergencies, which if you encounter heavy winds in any of these little things are a possibility you should at least be prepared for. But that's another subject.
Don't get me wrong, I love aircraft as much as the next guy, and I do think the car has good lines. The only problem with it is that 1. It costs $140000 2. The fuel consumption would be terrible. Basicly what I'm saying is that it isn't a viable market for it. If you are reading this, you have been BURNINATED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
i agree with the arguments of both gulfstreamtec and vulpinemac, but i would like to point out something somewhat on vulpinemac's line... at least one of the main points of the icon a5 creation is to make a plane that you can take almost everywhere. just a simple boat trailer and a trailer hitch can take it anywhere. although the specs of the searey are a little bit better, the searey can't be taken inland, at least not easily. a plane lover can take the icon a5 to his home and store it in the garage or shed. where as the searey generaly has to stay at the shoreline, and that person would have to rent or own a seaside dock or storage shed. just the storage would probably cost more altogether to own the searey than the icon a5. the icon may be not as good as the searey in some respects, but it is A LOT more user friendly.
I have a little experience as a private pilot and I've been (slowly) shopping for an affordable light aircraft -- for recreation, not for necessary transport (meaning I'd never have to fly in poor weather) but I'd really prefer to have something that can be a legitimate SUV alternative (carrying two adults, two kids, some gear, luggage, etc.) That's too much for a small Cessna, but I fly a Piper Cherokee II. With attention to weight and balance, and only two small children, it has ample performance and runs quite cheaply with a comprehensive maintenance schedule and everything in 100% condition at all times.
Entry-level flight is all about simplicity and this particular airplane is anything but simple.
Looking at other recent (last five years) attempts at personal flight, the continuing problem is complexity. Tilt-rotors and all manner of quirky ideas to make a "sky car," well, YouTube is full of videos of all kinds of tilt-rotors etc. and not one of them is by any measure a safe aircraft, let alone suitable for amateurs and recreational flight.
These semi-ultralight "toys" like the Searay and this Icon A5 compete more with say a glider or a high-end ultra-light -- they have no range, limited licensing, etc. Lots of fun, but a bit of a novelty unless you become hooked. It's not as if you can say "Hey, I think I'll go fly for an hour" ... that would mean at least an hour to get going and surely an hour to pack up and clean up give or take travel time, coordinating with an airstrip or launching at a lake, etc.
And imagine the first time you land and inadvertently hit a wake and take blue water straight over the cowl and douse the engine.
In California, operating this kind of aircraft is not entirely convenient. And you have to budget on a tow vehicle and a trailer on top of the base price. That's an expensive start-up proposition.
Personally, I'm lucky enough to have a garage with a couple of $150K+ toys that I enjoy as often as possible. A boat sits idly at the dry storage costing me depreciation. I'm hoping to add a light aircraft to the depreciation schedule. And all these toys tend to depreciate, or if they're "investment grade" then you have the hesitation in using them for fear of jeopardizing the investment and so on. It's a tricky business trying to get people to part with their money for toys more than a few times -- fool me once, as they say. While the operating and maintenance costs are quite high even on a 10-30 year-old light aircraft, the resale values are strong. And if you are an avid pilot, buying a new aircraft and "renting" it back to a school or charter for select pilots to use (not students!) can really help balance the budget. Conversely, I hesitate to spend upwards of $100K on something that would very likely be all but unsalable. I talked once of twice with this company, Icon, once or twice to encourage them to instead "lease" the plane and help owners form cooperatives to lease a plane between say three owners -- a relatively small up-front amount (which would in fact be the entire profit margin) and then a lease program with a low or zero balance after say five years. At that point, the plane might be "owned" and have equity or it might be a write-off and just be returned to the vendor perhaps as a way to defray the cost of taking a newer model. This would put the plane in the realm of a golf club equity membership and it would be affordable to a much, much broader market, especially of early-adopters, since the real challenge is to build up a user base of avid pilots, not a handful of wealthy types and their impulse purchases left to get dusty in a hangar somewhere or sold off at pennies on he dollar once the cachet and novelty is gone.
So for me, the "value proposition" is:
* four seats plus luggage
* range for moderate recreational flying
* lease program with resale value
* "country club" financial model of operating costs
* shared ownership with say two others
It seems to make sense to me that the Icon A5 would start at a high price. It's undeniably a modern, almost futuristic seaplane. And I'm sure they've done their research, tested pricing and they're starting high -- after all, why start low? If they don't get 100% sales projections, they can adjust accordingly. By comparison, the Searay is something you might have seen landing on a lake in Alaska 50 years ago. It looks "flimsy" like a much older aircraft and it has the "function over form" appearance. The Searay will appeal to some pilots more than others. The appearance of the Icon surely has much broader appeal aesthetically, though I imagine most seasoned pilots and engineers would be looking at the complexity and the details and wondering just how airworthy it is, just how safe it is and how reliable it would be. I can't imagine surviving wind sheer in either craft or the insidious icing problems around lakes. I think all these planes are waiting on the compact turbines to come into price range. And for the money, I think the Icon had to start out with a compact, fuel-efficient turbine. Maybe they just couldn't wait.
Of course, given how poorly most people drive cars, I'm not keen to see those same people flying.
Love it! now let's make it affordable to the middle class.
i love your boat/plane thingy
cant wait to see one of these fly into the airport i work at. It will be interesting to see how many people buy them. And i bet a lot of people will buy one, therefor, hopefully lower the cost so more people could buy one.
seeing as how well they designed the icon a5, i cant wait to see how they design some kind of jet propelled aircraft.
One thing that gulfstreamtec doesn't seem to mention in his rant is that the SeaRey is a kit; it requires some 700 hours to complete. That's assuming that the owner/builder can finish it and get it approved as airworthy.
The Icon may be expensive, but considering the amount of marketing and hype surrounding it, they seem to have a decent budget to develop it. There are far too many dreamers/schemers releasing plans and kits for ultralights and experimental planes.
The Icon will probably do well with new pilots.
YMMV makes the point that the Icon does not do the same job as much more expensive and capable 4 seaters which have more range, power, instruments, etc.
That is the whole point of the new LSA category!
Not everyone wants to dedicate their life to learning and paying for a high end aircraft.
An hour or two in the air on a sunny day is fine for many of us! I fly paragliders and am happy for a 1 hour soaring flight (that goes nowhere). When I used to fly sailplanes, I loved taking off and landing at the same field. It's all about the flying, not the trip.
The Icon A5 is destined to be the Honda Civic of aviation: affordable, sporty, hopefully reliable (with a Rotax, it should be), and probably a lot of fun!
Good luck to them starting up in our recession. I hope they do sell a bunch.
In checking the SeaRay online, an article popped up about its hull design leading to crashes (see google link). I believe I would prefer this hull to fiberglass. I've seen fiberglass boats shatter to pieces when they strike something hard. I can't imagine the stress put on a hull when it impacts the water at 140 mph.
I am one of the 400 or so customers who have placed orders with a $5,000 deposit for the aircraft. I am a low time pilot, and this will be my first aircraft purchase. It appears to be EXACTLY what I have been looking for. I am tired of flying 15-20 year old aircraft that look like they were built in the 1940's.
i wouldn't mind droppin only 140k for a sea-plane. that would be badass.
pricey, but sharp looking alternative to the simple boat.
This sleek floatplane has folding wings that make it compact enough to tow home and stow in your garage. very good
I'm selling my Cessna 206 amphib to buy the Icon 100. I've been to the test facility to see their operation and find it to be second to none.
In many years of owning the 206, with 6 seats, I've only taken advantage of all 6 once. If you want a bird that holds more than 2 and can go across the country, go commercial, maybe light sport isn't for you. If on the other hand you want to fly an inexpensive safe aircraft from lake to lake, runway to runway or lake to runway, you get the picture, and not put out what a night in Las Vegas costs, maybe this light sport aircraft is for you.
The 206 burns about 18-20 gph of 100LL, cruises about 10 kts faster than the Icon. The Icon only burns five gph of pump gas and holds 20 gals, giving it the same legs as the 206.
In the past 5 years I've averaged just over 35 hours per year at a cost of about $450 per hour when you consider annuals, over hauls, insurance and fuel.
I estimate I'll be flying the Icon nearer 100 hours per year, with costs a small fraction of the 206's.
While visting the Icon facility I became accuainted with the personel that are putting this operation together. There isn't a more talented and dedicated group of indiviguals in the industry, ask the folks at Composit Plastics, rumor is they knew most of the Icon crew before they lelt there.
To compare this bird with any other light sport would be like comparing a LS6 Corvette to a 51 Nash.
My back ground is 6 years as a U.S. Naval aviator and over 20 years of flying for Pan Am. Besides being type rated in a couple of Boeings and one Air bus, I've held a CFI certificate for float planes.
Do your own home work, this bird will be the savior of General Aviation, you won't believe what the stall characteristics are, or aren't.
Oh! and by the way the Icon is made out of carbon fiber.
May 30, 2012 - ICON Aircraft announced earlier this year that it successfully completed spin resistance testing of its A5 amphibious light-sport aircraft to FAA Part 23 standards. wow
hello, i have save as this pict, nice
I have concerns about this otherwise good looking aircraft:
The fuel is stored in the cabin, which is not good of itself, but there is no mention of a fuel pump.
The range is very poor compared to other LSAs as is the cruise speed.
You carry the weight of a bilge pump and the sideboards.
The seats look thin, hard and are unadjustable.
You cannot have retractable gear and electric wing fold which spoils the package.
If you can accept all this, then I admit the price is keen and the looks great.