After a two-year delay, Icon Aircraft announced on 24 July that it has delivered the first six A5 light-sport amphibian aircraft to customer control as it prepares for massive ramp-up to full-rate production next year.
In July 2015 the Vacaville, California-based start-up achieved certification after an original six-year delay, but almost immediately suffered a meltdown in a production system designed from scratch to achieve a high rate of deliveries.
Plans to deliver as many as 200 aircraft in 2016 alone were deferred as Icon re-organised suppliers, transferring composite structure fabrication to a new company-owned factory in the Mexican state of Baja California.
About 20 aircraft delivered to customers in 2015 and 2016 were leased back by the company to complete modification testing and training for new A5 pilots, says Icon chief executive Kirk Hawkins. Six of those aircraft have now been released to owner control, featuring several modifications including an improved nose gear and external lighting system.
The company now plans to deliver the first A5 aircraft assembled using composite parts supplied from Baja California in September, followed by a rapid production ramp-up to 200 deliveries overall in 2018, Hawkins says.
Meanwhile, Icon continues to explore options for a follow-on project, with the focus at the moment on producing flying vehicles for the recreation market.