Icon Aircraft Preaches to the Congregation (Finally!)

By Scott Spangler on June 26th, 2008

Stand with me brothers and sisters of the air and remember June 11, 2008. On this day upstart Icon Aircraft left the cloistered alcove where the choir of aviators sings. It took the public pulpit, inhaled deeply, and sang in pure notes to the congregation of nonflyers–flying for fun is for you!

ICON A5 Unveiling LA (2) Yeah, I know. You’ve heard this hymn before. But never like this. In the cathedral of aviation this is different. So different that the glitzy LA debut of the A5, described as the “ultimate recreational vehicle,” caught the attention of publications like Forbes and Business Week.

And the Wall Street Journal summarized the difference succinctly in its article, “Start-Up Wants a New Audience to Take to the Air,”  calling Icon’s marketing plans “a novel concept: a small, sleek propeller plane aimed at the same mass market that includes motorbikes, personal watercraft, and powerboats…affluent thrill-seekers — a group that already spends billions of dollars each year on trekking, white-water rafting, hang gliding, parasailing and similar adventure sports.”

Icon A5 Launch The Icon A5 is an amphibious light-sport aircraft made of carbon fiber. But that is not what makes it special. Nor is it the A5’s  folding wings and optional trailer, allowing owners to keep it at home like a boat. What makes it unique is that the sleek, sexy machine was designed for the consumer–not a pilot.

From the company website, it’s clear that the design goals were to create a safe, simple flying machine that “inspires us the way great sports car do.” In selling the lifestyle, Icon has a good chance of bringing back the excitement and romance of flight.

ICON A5 Cockpit To help assure success, the company has resisted aviation’s addiction: technology. Glass is good in many situations, but in day VFR sport flying it’s overkill, and information overload to new pilots, the Icon market.  Glass is an option, but the standard A5 comes with just a few analog instruments that provide essential information like altitude, airspeed, and angle of attack, with a GPS moving map to show the way.

Icon’s effort could well change the face of aviation. Someone who should know is Vern Raburn, founder and CEO of Eclipse Aviation, and an Icon advisor. To the WSJ reporter he said Icon “is definitely going to use sales channels the traditional industry doesn’t use.”

Raburn completed the thought with the Forbes reporter: “This is the beginning of a new era by bringing in, not thousands, not tens of thousands, but potentially hundreds of thousands of new pilots to aviation.”

Time will tell, naturally, but Icon has a better chance than anyone I can remember. The prototype is scheduled to fly this year and go into production in 2010. It will, of course, be at EAA AirVenture, and I’ll be there as well to see how big a crowd it draws. — Scott Spangler

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2 Responses to “Icon Aircraft Preaches to the Congregation (Finally!)”

  1. Arizona Keough » Blog Archive » Icon-ic? Yes Please! Says:

    […] read Scott Spangler’s post today at JetWhine and was really interested with the feature… a little LSA amphibian called the […]

  2. Dan Says:

    Does Vern Raburn still have any credibility left? What happened to those 1400 DayJet orders?

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