# Icon A5 Update - No Deliveries!?!

Discussion in 'Hangar Flying' started by nucleus, Mar 30, 2016.

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1. Sep 27, 2019

### BBerson

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The marketing techniques glamorize low flying. All of the crashes were low altitude flying.
Pilot experience, or why high time pilots would crash more than low time pilots is a different topic.

2. Sep 27, 2019

### Hot Wings

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My observation is that aviation accidents that are really pilot error are much like motorcycle accidents or any other risky activity that takes experience to do well.

When I was still trolling the insurance auction yards I noted that the high performance motorcycles there either had under 300 miles on the odometer or over 10,000. Freshly minted pilots also seem to be follow the same pattern. The truly reckless ones get bit soon while the prudent new pilots tend to be safer than the average 1000+ hour pilot.....for a while.

If one were to overlay the Dunning Kruger graph of knowledge and the accident rate/time I think they would be almost indistinguishable?

3. Sep 27, 2019

### Marc Zeitlin

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Ummm, ALL crashes of ANY aircraft occur at low altitude.

Most seaplane flying of any type occurs at low altitude. I don't think I've ever seen a floatplane at 10K ft.

In any case, if the argument was that marketing was going to attract new pilots without experience and judgement 9and that WAS the argument that Dave H. was addressing, and that I was bringing up) and yet all the A5 accidents have occurred with high time pilots who at least theoretically have judgement to go along with their experience, then that argument is contraindicated.

4. Sep 27, 2019

### BJC

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Marc Z:

Not disputing the facts that it is not newly licensed pilots who are crashing A5’s, but I don’t have data to conclude that the pilots who crashed were experienced.

As I have previously commented, maneuvering close to the ground by those not experienced in it, is very different from maneuvering at typical altitudes. “Experienced pilot” means different things; I have lots of experience with flat spins in the Pitts, but I am totally incompetent to fly an instrument approach. A 777 captain with 30,000 hours may never have banked an airplane below 20 feet above the water, judged the radius necessary to make a successful 180 where there are hard obstacles, or recognized the altitude loss in a tight turn at low speed with marginal excess power. Things look very different when aggressively maneuvering at low altitude. And what is “low” is very variable too.

To fly safely near the edge of the atmosphere requires a different skills set than flying in the middle.

BTW, the author of that article does not have a reputation for accuracy in his writings.

BJC

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5. Sep 27, 2019

### Wanttaja

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Well...all the crashes involved low flying, but ultimately, ALL accidents do. 'Cause it's not an accident until you hit the ground.

Five Icon accidents in a quick check of the online NTSB list. One was insufficient room for a takeoff, one was engine failure, another was a hard landing on the water.

Of the other two, one involved a company pilot flying up the wrong box canyon (at low altitude), the other was classic hot-dogging.

Two (or even one) accident out of five is a high rate, but a five-aircraft sample is too small to assess.

Ron Wanttaja

6. Sep 27, 2019

### BBerson

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Two of the crashes involved inability to climb above obstacles. As Dave H. said, the aircraft is underpowered: "The airplane is easy to overload, and with a gross weight of 1,510 pounds and a mere 100-horsepower engine, the A5 has a meager power-to-weight ratio."

"All crashes are low altitude".... yeah, maybe low altitude flight should be banned.

Magazine articles are marketing. Rob Mark was taken to task for his blatant Icon bias in a letter to editor in the current October issue of FLYING.

Last edited: Sep 27, 2019
7. Sep 27, 2019

### Marc Zeitlin

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The article discusses the experience level of all the pilots - only one of the five (the Canadian one) had an unknown amount of time.

No disagreement with any of this. But skillset and judgement are two different things.

I'd certainly be interested in pointers to indications that DH's writings are less than optimally accurate. Even if true, however, this wasn't an opinion piece and all the facts were laid out. Interpretation of those facts can certainly vary, but at least with the six accidents that have occurred, the facts don't support the contention that marketing is what is causing accidents with the A5.

Running out of fuel, taking off 70 lb. over gross on too small an area, back side of power curve high descent rate, or landing with gear extended certainly aren't affected by marketing techniques. The Halladay crash is probably the only one where marketing could be argued to have influenced the outcome, although I'd argue that the drugs found in his system were a larger contributor. That leaves the Karkow crash, and it's hard to imagine that Jon was influenced by marketing after thousands of hours of test flying for Scaled and 600 hours in the A5 prototype and production aircraft. For reasons unknown, Jon entered his last maneuver 10 Kt. slower than he usually did when demonstrating exactly the same maneuver in exactly the same place. Not enough energy to make the turn at a high enough altitude...

I just thought that it might be interesting, to those that disparage the marketing of the A5, to see that the facts do not, as of yet, support the contention that their marketing will lead to high accident rates.

8. Sep 27, 2019

### Wanttaja

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Not always, but it's certainly standard for companies to arrange media access to stack the deck in their favor as much as possible. Doesn't always work... I remember an Ed Wischmeyer pilot report in Kitplanes where he specifically called out some handling issues with the aircraft. When I write an article about a given aircraft type, I do pass a draft on to the company in case there are any factual errors or mitigation I hadn't considered. In the middle of that right now, in fact.

Not that what Bill refers to DOESN'T happen, of course.

From my understanding, the reviewers have all been positive about the way the airplane flies. So there takes away some basis for objective criticism of the airplane. Criticism of the marketing of the aircraft is a tough thing to incorporate into an article, because it's SOLELY opinion. I might feel Icon markets the plane too strongly as a "flying jet ski" but that's merely my own impression. And, those kind of impressions CAN be turned by a good marketing team.

Ron Wanttaja

9. Sep 27, 2019

### BJC

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My point (poorly made) was that experience in flying the way most were when they crashed is different from most flying. Nothing in the article indicted their experience maneuvering at low altitude, etc.
We agree on that. If a pilot with inadequate skill to accomplish a maneuver (180 at low altitude, with marginal lateral clearance, for example) crashes, there were two missed opportunities; having the skill to accomplish the maneuver and having the judgement to avoided the situation.
I exchanged several emails with him a few years ago about inaccuracies and misconceptions in articles that he wrote about, as I recall, the Citabria or Decathlon, and another about tailwheel flying techniques. His response was along the lines of “Oh well, I was close enough, don’t both me with details.” Others have told me that they had similar exchanges with him.
I agree with that, and thought that I had conveyed it that way.
Yes, we are in agreement.
Agree. (Was there was room to land straight ahead rather than trying to make a 180?) Minimum radius turns are typically taught as constant altitude turns. I don’t know about the A5, but many airplanes can do a 180 in very little lateral space by performing a wingover type turn. It takes a willingness to fly at what many consider abnormal attitudes, uncoordinated flight, accelerating at less that 1g, and considerable practice starting at altitude and gradually working lower and lower.
I admit that I have had concerns about their marketing, and I agree that there is no data to date to substantiate those concerns. Thanks for posting the article.

BJC

10. Sep 27, 2019

### Marc Zeitlin

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Agreed. Sounds like we're agreeing on a lot more than we're disagreeing on .

Well, that's certainly not an acceptable response.

I think we've discussed the Karkow accident before (not long after it occurred, IIRC), but apparently that canyon was one that Jon regularly did his demo flights into. Usually, he flew up the canyon at 65 KIAS and was easily able to complete the 180 at the spot where the crash occurred. However, on this flight, for unknown reasons, he started the turn at 55 KIAS and did NOT have enough energy (only 71% of the usual amount) to complete the turn without an altitude loss. I don't remember if Jon's normal procedure was to do a climbing wingover type turn, but in any case, without enough energy, he ended up lower than usual and obviously closer to the ground where it was narrower.

With respect to landing straight ahead, my analysis indicated that had he KNOWN that he couldn't make the turn, he could have either landed straight ahead and possibly just run up onto the shore at the end of the canyon, or added power and climbed over the ridge straight ahead - the climb gradient should have been doable. But obviously he started the turn because he thought he could do it, like he had done many times previously...

You bet .

11. Sep 27, 2019

### BBerson

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That particular FLYING article was biased. Rob Mark's article was a comparison of Searey with Icon A5. He listed how the Searey was lighter, faster, cheaper, etc. and then said the Icon was the superior aircraft. Note, Icon has full page ads in the magazine and Searey doesn't. Like, I said, someone else noticed also.

12. Sep 27, 2019

### Turd Ferguson

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What about the baseball player, Halladay? Wasn't he kind of a low time pilot?

nevermind I found it. 700h.

13. Sep 27, 2019

### Wanttaja

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I read his article online, and didn't find it that biased.

Throughout he's complimentary about the way both aircraft fly, with comments about how the Icon is a much more refined aircraft. He does point out several times that the Icon is more refined, but does also mention it costs a lot more.

"The A5 offers sure handling on the water, although there is nothing to quibble about when it comes to the Searey. The A5 can turn on a dime in the air and is extremely easy to fly, which was an early design goal. In truth, the A5 is the superior airplane, and it isn’t even close. It looks better, it flies better, and it’s built better. It also costs more, and therein lies the dilemma for buyers. If money was no object, the A5 is the toy you’d want to own. Otherwise, the Searey is the one you’ll happily settle for."

I decide to buy a sports car after I retired. I could have afforded a nice one, but ended up with a Honda Civic coupe. No doubt a head-to-head comparison with the Corvette will give the Chevy the win, too, but I'm happy with spending ~$50,000 less for a lower level of refinement and performance. I think Rob Mark hit the right points. Most people probably WOULD be happier with an Icon, just like most people would be happier in a first-class airline seat rather than coach. It's just a factor as to whether you can afford it. He ends with "If money was no object, the A5 is the toy you’d want to own. Otherwise, the Searey is the one you'll happily settle for." I think that's a fair opinion. Ron Wanttaja 14. Sep 27, 2019 ### jedi ### jedi #### Well-Known Member Joined: Aug 8, 2009 Messages: 1,780 Likes Received: 402 Location: Sahuarita Arizona, Renton Washington, USA I think it is safe to say that this is the beginning of the end for Icon so let's look to the future. I will start by declaring a lottery for those wanting to predict the date of the last delivery. I will take August 8th 2020. Next item. Who if any will end up with production rights and what will they sell for. Right now it looks as though Icon needs a good old cost reduction program even more that the weight reduction program. The best way to do that will be to move all the tooling to China and set it up in the Cessna Sky Catcher plant. Sure would be nice to know if the Sky Catcher is being made in China and if not now when? 15. Sep 27, 2019 ### BBerson ### BBerson #### Well-Known MemberHBA Supporter Joined: Dec 16, 2007 Messages: 12,058 Likes Received: 2,353 Location: Port Townsend WA I don't think a heavier seaplane is superior, but I'll leave it at that. I didn't fly one, but I did watch one slowly climb away at Airventure. 16. Sep 28, 2019 ### Turd Ferguson ### Turd Ferguson #### Well-Known Member Joined: Mar 14, 2008 Messages: 4,799 Likes Received: 1,719 Location: Upper midwest in a house I'm sure the Skycatcher plant in China was repurposed a long time ago since it's been a while since they stopped making them. The Chinese wouldn't let a building sit around empty for long. 17. Sep 28, 2019 ### Wanttaja ### Wanttaja #### Well-Known Member Joined: Sep 15, 2013 Messages: 1,261 Likes Received: 1,446 Location: Seattle, WA Judging which is the "best" aircraft really depends on what your criteria are. Looking at the performance specs, there's no question that Searey is better in a lot of categories. But just like...for instance... my little Honda Civic might be able to corner tighter than a Corvette, there might be comfort and other aspects of the Vette that makes "superior," depending on the evaluator's criteria. And sure, "Icon is a major advertiser" might get factored in. But from the wording of the article, I don't have any reason to suspect that. As an engineer with four decade of trade studies and performance analyses under my belt, I dislike it when publications DON'T compare the parameters of two vehicles side by side, rather than in two separate tables in different order. I pasted the Searey and Icon tables in the Flying article into Excel, and juggled them to put the criteria on the same lines so a direct comparison was possible. This makes differences stand out a bit better. [TABLE]FactorSeareyICON A5Price as Equipped$169,000 \$389,000 EngineRotax 914 ULRotax 912iSHorsepower115 hp100 hpPropellerWarp Drive, 3 bladeSensenich three bladeHeight7 ft. 2 iN.7 ft. 7 iN.Wingspan30 ft. 8 in.34 ft. 9 in.Length22 ft. 5 in.21 ft. 9 in.Wing Area158 sq. ft.135 sq. ft.Empty Weight1,000 lbs.1,080 lbs.Useful Load430 lbs.430 lb.Payload365 lbs.370 lbs.Max Useable Fuel22 gal.20 gal.Max Gross Weight1,430 lbs.1,510 lbs.Stall Speed, Full Flaps35 kcas39 kcasMax Rate of Climb950 fpm616 fpmMax Range317 nm427 nmMax Speed98 ktas95 kcasStall Speed, Flaps Up40 kcas45 kcasLanding Over 50 Feet860 ft.1,150 ft.Takeoff Over 50 FeetNot Listed1,060 ft.[/TABLE]
The Searey is obvious better in some key performance areas. The Searey table didn't list a takeoff distance, but one might assume it's roughly the same as the landing distance.

Ron Wanttaja

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18. Sep 28, 2019

### BBerson

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Take another quote from the Rob M. article: " The A5 can turn on a dime in the air..."

The two Icon crashes involved failure to turn on a dime and avoid the shore/trees.

wiki lists the Searey empty weight at only 820 pounds . I don't know which model was used in the article.

Last edited: Sep 28, 2019
19. Sep 28, 2019

### BJC

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For those who need it, the Vette has more pick-up potential. Never needed it, myself.

BJC

20. Sep 28, 2019

### Wanttaja

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Oh, don't be silly, you can't put more than a hundred or so pounds of manure or wood scraps behind the front seat of a...

...oh. You mean something else.

Ron Wanttaja

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