An Iconic Primer on Spin Resistance

By Scott Spangler on June 4th, 2012
The Icon A5’s spin resistance show & tell

When I hit the play button on this video, I was ready to pounce on every syllable of marketing hyperbole. Instead of half-told truths, I got a concise, comprehensive show & tell on what makes an airplane stall, why it’s bad for everybody involved, and how the full-envelope stall resistance of the Icon Aircraft A5 improves safety.

If this is what aviation marketing looks like when it’s controlled by test pilots and aeronautical engineers, we need more of it. First, they didn’t get all mathematical and speak in Greek letters about the different aerodynamic aspects of stalls and spins. They used words everyday people would understand and married those words to video that made each point.

Comparing the side-by-side results of stalling the A5 and Cessna 150 and applying full right rudder when holding full aft stick, and then rolling into 30-degree banks, was genius. So was a comparing the A5’s stall descent rate (1,000 fpm) with a skydiver under canopy (1200 fpm). It’s probably no accident that these examples meet the Part 23’s spin resistance parameters.

And remember, this is a light-sport aircraft, certificated to ASTM standards, not Part 23. But Icon has decided to go the extra mile, and that in itself is worth something, especially these days, when doing the bare minimum (or less) seems to be the standard at so many businesses in every field. In closing, the video touted the spin-resistant amphibian as a trainer, which it will likely be, but its video is certainly an educational winner. —Scott Spangler


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17 Responses to “An Iconic Primer on Spin Resistance”

  1. Kevin Says:

    I’ve done most of my flying in ultralights (trikes and fixed wing), and a little flying in a C172. I’ve experienced stalls and spins, and they certainly are disconcerting but something every pilot must experience, and lean how to recover from. While I love the spin resistant nature of the A5, I hope that anyone learning to fly, whether or not they intend to fly the A5 exclusively, gets taught how to properly recognize that they’re in a spin / stall and how to correctly recover. Once they’ve been through the training and cleared the check ride, I’m all for an easy flyer!

  2. Bill P Says:

    Don’t ya just love great engineering?
    I do.
    This looks like a good case of it.

  3. Steve Devine Says:

    Unfortunately, staw/spins do not typically occure in straight and level flight with full rudder applied. Typically spins occur in turning flight with cross control inputs and slow speed (i.e. in the pattern). Lets see that demonstrated.

  4. Bruce Goode Says:

    I watched from the ground during the segment of spin resistance testing that involved formation flight with the skydiver. I was amazed to see the test pilot flying precise circles around the parachute while his A5 was in a full-on stall. What an impressive airplane!

  5. Stephen Mann Says:

    The Ercoupe was the first production aircraft that could not spin, and was almost impossible to stall.

    Also, the demo, while dramatic, was an Apples and Oranges comparison. The C-150 is easy to stall and easy (and fun) to spin. Let’s see the A5 in a power-off, cross-controlled stall in a 60-degree turn. Very typical of a low-time pilot who overshot final from base.

  6. Robert Mark Says:

    Cross controlled in a turn eh Steve? Probably a fair question although 30-degree bank turns while it’s stalled is pretty nice.

  7. Steve Devine Says:

    You got it Mr. Mann. I could not agree more.

    P.S. I knew a guy named Dick Mann. I always thought he had the greatest name.

  8. Jason Barnes Says:

    Fabulous concept. I wish the video explained details of exactly HOW they achieved stall resistance, and spin resistance.

  9. Robert Mark Says:

    The details of HOW they did this is probably their competitive edge … and that’s going to be a secret I would think.

  10. Jurgen Says:

    I thought the results of the testing were quite
    impressive. As for the comments made by Stephen Mann, If I had any student or even an experienced pilot making a 60 degree banked turn from base to final I’d be smacking the person upside the head. Anyone approaching at landing at this angle of bank has either a death wish or requires a re-test.

    Cheers, Jurgen

  11. Mike Longley Says:

    This is accomplished by a discontinous wing, frankly this is not a major achievement. It allows the root of the wing to stall while changing the portion of the wing where the aerolon control surfaces are so they remain functional.
    The Quest Kodiak has a similar wing. Frankly all these wings are spin resistant and recoverable using easy control surface inputs with the aerolons only whereas a spin in C150 the aerolons stall in a spin and become ineffective in recovering from the spin. However all similar wings can still spin and are not “unspinable”.

  12. ICON Aircraft Says:

    The Part 23 spin resistance standard that we used during our spin resistance testing included over 350 unique test cases, and the turning uncoordinated stall was among them (both accelerated stall and non-accelerated). The Part 23 standard requires a range of maneuvers (including this one) and aircraft configurations (flap positions, landing gear positions, throttle settings), and while its not possible to show them all, heres some video that shows the turning uncoordinated stall:

  13. Angel Andres Says:

    Wow, cross controlled and the response is a buffet with a slight roll to wings level. Can’t argue with that video.

  14. James Says:

    Banking Stall in Icon

    Note that during the recovery from the right banking stall the plane rolled to the left. Now look at the ailerons during this maneuver. They are opposite input (right side up rolled the plane left). This can be done in any plane since in a stall the ailerons become drag brakes causing reverse command. So this appears not to be a forthright demonstration.

  15. Travis B Says:

    Pretty sweet concept. Like a fellow commenter, I believe that this is great for someone who has 300 hours of time written in their logbook.

    Stalls and Spins I feel are something that regardless of the pilot, should be frequently practiced. Look at AF447 for example. Just shows that even the professionals can use a refresher in these maneuvers.

    This plane seems like a real cool idea, and I hope the company does well, I just don’t want to see a brand new/ inexperienced pilot flying one.

  16. Sean Says:

    If I was in an aircraft and put in full back elevator and full right rudder, i’d be a bit concerned if it continued in straight line. What if you needed to make those inputs to recover from some other situation. Looks like the Cessna is far more responsive :)

  17. Andrew S Says:

    Did someone say spin resistance(not spin proof)?.
    I think some are missing the point.
    If it is proven to meet specific FAA requirements of spin resistance, then surely that is what it is, but that does not make it idiot-proof.
    If someone disagrees with the FAA definition of spin resistance, maybe they should take it up with the FAA.
    Sure, explaining this to a layman may require non-technical techniques, but, for the aerodynamic geeks,the proof is in the FAA approval, not in the spin-off video.
    Congratulations on a great achievement.
    Very impressive aircraft.

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