Light Sports Aircraft: A new classification of aircraft recently approved by the FAA "light sports aircraft" is making these new age amphibious flying machines a multifaceted mode of transportation. One look at the ICON A5 and it is easy to assume that this must an extravagant prop for a big-budgeted upcoming action and adventure movie in the making. This two-seat airplane with foldable wings can be towed on the back of an automobile. It can be stored inside a garage, that is, a one-car-residence-size model, not an airport garage or a hangar stable. This ultimate fantasy recreational vehicle is an aviation reality that will be flying high by late 2010 with a base price tag of $139,000.
The maker of the A5, ICON Aircraft, is taking orders now. A deposit of $5,000 delivers a two-seat airplane that is 22 feet in length with a wingspan of 34 feet. The wings turn up, with the bottom of the wings facing toward the front, and then are folded back toward the tail of the aircraft. With the sports plane foldable wings pulled back, the width of the A5 measures approximately 8.5 feet. Its trailer length is 28 feet. The landing gear of the A5 also is retractable. The wings fold back manually in less than five minutes. There also is an option to have the wings fold back automatically. Another optional feature is a complete airplane parachute, which would bring the small plane to a landing in time of need.
The cockpit resembles a sports car, as the instrumentation is laid out for maximum convenience and accessibility. A patented propeller guard precludes anyone from being harmed by the propeller. The four-cycle 100 horsepower engine of the amphibious A5 has a top speed of 120 mph (105 knots) and a nautical-mile range of 300 miles. For takeoff and landing distance, the single-prop aircraft requires only 750 feet. The positioning of the single propeller to the rear of the cabin is an interesting twist. A forward entry canopy makes ins and outs convenient. The side windows are removable for those open-air low-altitude joints across the lake, the deserts, or the mountains.
Piloting a light sports aircraft requires only half the required flight training hours as being licensed for other types of airplanes. The business and personal uses are innumerous. Other fledgling manufacturers of light sports aircraft entering the market are the Parajet Skycar, the Pal V, and the Terrafugia Transition.
Buyers interested in owning the first 100 ICON A5s manufactured can join the Icon 100 Club. Members are required to place a $100,000 deposit instead of the standard $5,000 down payment. The first 100 aircraft will be a limited edition designated the Icon A5 LE.
For LxM James Rothaar