Spin Test: Icon A5 vs. Cessna 150

The under-development amphibian takes the spin resistant challenge.
By Robert Goyer / Published: May 30, 2012
Related Tags: Icon Aircraft

Icon Aircraft, the company that’s making the Icon A5 LSA amphibian, has put out a video explaining and demonstrating what their design can do. It’s impressive.

A while back I wrote a blog that was critical not of Icon’s laudable efforts at aerodynamic progress but of the fact the company was unclear in explaining exactly the relationship between its airplane, an LSA, and Part 23 certification.

Sadly, the video we hope you watch from Icon again does not make it clear: The A5 isnot a Part 23 certificated model, and as an LSA the testing that Icon does on spin resistance is purely voluntary and not validated by the FAA. If you believe what Icon is telling you, and I’m strongly persuaded by the video, then that’s your call. I just wish that Icon would say directly that what they are calling a spin resistant design is Icon’s determination and not the FAA’s. It’s an easy thing to explain and I’m baffled as to why they don’t just come right out and say it.  It detracts nothing from the company’s impressive work.

In the video the A5 essentially does a fly-off against a Cessna 150, the classic training airplane and a great airplane (when properly outfitted and under proper supervision) in which to learn spins. The video is gorgeous, Icon’s explanation of what’s happening aerodynamically is crystal clear, and the results are startling. Check it out.

As far as the spin resistant claims are concerned: as I said, I’m strongly persuaded. The A5 appears in the video to mush instead of departing controlled flight. Icon says the rate of descent is 1,000 fpm, a survivable rate even if nothing else were done to arrest the descent.

This level of spin resistance, if it’s as good as it seems, might not be the holy grail of light aircraft design, but it’s a huge development. Loss of control at low altitude represents a big part of the fatal accident pie; creating a design that’s largely immune to loss of control under the most common flight scenarios would be a huge feather in Icon’s cap.

As I’ve told the folks at Icon, I can’t wait to fly the airplane.

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