Icon A-5: The Folding Airplane

Reblogged from ba-bamail.com

The Icon A-5 is a whole new aviation concept. It is designed to be a personal airplane aimed at the domestic leisure market – and people don’t need to be experienced pilots to fly it. The A-5 intends to simplify the flying process so much that anyone can pick up the skills necessary to fly the plane quickly and easily, and it has a whole stack of sophisticated safety features to help it achieve this goal. The aircraft has been in development since 2008 and is moving towards general release, having passed through the first of the necessary regulatory checks. Let’s have a look at this incredible concept and see a video of the A-5 in action.

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If you have ever dreamed of owning your own plane, but don’t want the added hassle of huge storage costs, long periods of training and complicated dashboards full of buttons, then the Icon A-5 is designed with you in mind. The dashboard of the plane looks more like something that you would find in the modern sports car, than an airplane, and aims to keep things as simple as possible. The A-5 has been described as the aviation industry’s answer to the Tesla.

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Image: Andrew Moseman, popularmechanics.com
The aircraft can take off and land on either water or gravel, and is genuinely amphibious. It features a carbon-fiber airframe, retractable undercarriage, and is powered by a three-bladed pusher propeller. The plane is meant to appeal to ‘weekend warriors’ who would savor the thrill of flying, and use the plane to reach remote lakes and rivers. The company’s head of sales, Craig Bowers believes the plane will be at the forefront of the ‘next powersport’. It can be viewed as the latest expensive toy in a list that historically includes sports cars, supercars, jet skis and private yachts.

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Image: iconaircraft.com
Of course, flying is inherently dangerous and if people don’t know what they are doing then it could turn out very badly indeed. For that reason, the designers have attempted to ‘fool-proof’ the plane to prevent accidents. Among the many safety features are a unique ‘angle of attack’ gauge that lets the pilot know if they are flying safely relative to the conditions. Engineers have also designed the plane to be resistant to spins and stalls. If the pilot makes a mistake and stalls the plane, it will continue to glide rather than nosedive, due to its specially designed wings.

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Image: iconaircraft.com
Of course, it wouldn’t be suitable for the general adventure sport market if it wasn’t easy to store and transport. Engineers have tried to satisfy this need – and they have been innovative in doing so. The wings of the A-5 fold inwards to make the machine much more compact so it can be carried on a trailer. By the same logic, the plane could also be feasibly stored in a garage – although with a length of 23 feet (7 meters), you would need a fairly large garage.

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Image: iconaircraft.com
The Icon A-5 is officially classed as a light-sport aircraft and features some impressive specifications. It has room for one passenger in addition to the pilot, a range of around 345 miles (556km) per journey and a maximum speed of 211mph (194km/h). The maximum take-off weight is 1,510lbs (685kg), meaning there is room for 550lbs (249kg) of ‘useful load’ (passenger weight, baggage etc.).

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Image: flickr user H. Michael Miley
Before you get too excited, the Icon A-5 does of course come at a high price. The first batch of models are being sold for $250,000, although the company intends to sell later batches at the lower (but still significant) price of $197,000. That said, the plane is the first of its type and it remains to be seen whether the concept will catch on, leading to more affordable but similar offerings in years to come. The company behind the design is currently busy earning all the necessary Federal Aviation Association approvals ahead of the plane’s release, and have already received orders for 1,500 planes, which they hope to deliver by 2019.

Here is a video of the Icon A-5 in action:

Embedded Video: the ICON Experience

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