In 2004, a new category named the light-sport aircraft (LSA) was created. Soon after, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) created a matching new certificate called a sport-pilot license (SPL). The SPL is intended only for recreational flying, so that many of the difficulties involved in training have been removed. For example, sport pilots are only allowed to fly in daytime and are restricted to certain conditions such as flying in good weather.
The two-seater ICON A5’s maximum takeoff weight is 1,320 pounds. It is powered by a single, reciprocating engine and is capable of reaching a maximum airspeed of 120 knots (138 mph). The cockpit is equipped only with the essentials, so that it is user-friendly and uncomplicated. Among the instruments included in the panel are an angle of attack (AOA) indicator, an airspeed indicator, altimeter, fuel level indicator, and tachometer.
The ICON A5 is amphibious, meaning it can land and takeoff on both water and land. The frame is constructed out of lightweight, high-strength composite material comprised of carbon fiber. This aircraft can be fueled with either automotive or aviation gasoline, thus making it more economic. The wings can be easily folded manually in a matter of five minutes, or in less than 60 seconds via the automatic option. “ICON expects to receive our airworthiness certificate during the production ramp up in 2010,” explains ICON on its site.
TFOT recently covered other aircraft including a unique 4-seat canard aircraft which can be assembled by the user and was modeled after the successful Long-EZ design, and the SkyWatcher, an unmanned aerial vehicle capable of operating in groups of up to 12 aircrafts, which can be manned if necessary.