Icon has been cleared to deliver the A5 amphibious light sport aircraft using a spin-resistant airframe after receiving a key exemption from regulators.
The technology that allows the A5 to resist loss of control scenarios due to stalls and spins also makes the aircraft heavier, to the point that it exceeds the 640kg (1,430lb) weight limit for light sport amphibians.
Icon submitted an application more than a year ago to the US Federal Aviation Administration applying for an exemption from the weight limit, allowing the A5 to enter service with an S-LSA airworthiness certificate, despite a maximum take-off weight of 685kg.
The FAA replied to the California-based start-up in May saying it needed more time to consider the request, because of its potential to set a precedent.
Two months later, the FAA granted the exemption to Icon for the "specific safety enhancement" of the spin-resistant airframe on the A5.
The decision provides a huge boost to the airframer as it approaches the A5's scheduled entry into service in the third quarter of 2014.
Icon had launched production of the first A5 in January, ahead of the FAA's ruling, on the weight exemption, despite the lack of certainty.
"We had to make some tough engineering decisions in order to keep the programme moving forward, given the FAA delay," says Icon vice-president of engineering Matthew Gionta.
The A5 also includes another safety enhancing technology with a bespoke angle of attack indicator. Icon developed the instrument to help light sport pilots avoid stalls on climb-out and on a final turn during a runway approach - two of the most deadly phases of flight.
Source: Flight International