Icon Aircraft has taken back composite fabrication of the A5 seaplane from previous supplier Cirrus Aircraft as the light-sport category manufacturer works to recover from a production system slowdown announced two months ago, says chief executive Kirk Hawkins. .

The Vacaville, California-based manufacturer outsourced composite fabrication work to Cirrus’ factory in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in 2012. In a separate decision, Icon announced a production slowdown in late May, reducing projected deliveries in 2016 to 20 from around 200 due to concerns about supplier quality and readiness.

Cirrus used Icon’s tooling and fabrication processes in the Grand Forks facility, Hawkins says. So moving the work back in-house was straightforward and has already resumed, with the 10th and 11th production aircraft off the assembly line on display at the Experimental Aircraft Association's annual fly-in in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Hawkins says.

The production system overhaul marks a swing in fortunes from only a year ago. Icon ceremonially delivered the first A5 at the Oshkosh event to the Young Eagles, a youth group for pilots. But the aircraft was never operated by the charity organization and now all 20 of the first aircraft due to be delivered have been re-assigned internally by Icon.

The first 20 aircraft off the assembly line are now being delivered to three flight training centres instead of two customers, Hawkins says. Any customer who insists on a delivery based on a reserved production slot must immediately lease the aircraft back to Icon’s flight training centres. Once those three centres are fully equipped by early next year, Icon will resume aircraft deliveries to regular customers, he says.

The A5, sporting a spin-resistant wing and a safety-enhancing angle of attack indicator, has endured a bumpy path to operational service. Icon’s investors have always viewed the aircraft’s appeal as beyond the normal aviation community, seeking the larger audience of far more numerous motor sports enthusiasts.

It’s not yet clear if Icon’s target market will embrace the A5 concept, but the company’s business plan depends on it. The list price of the 10th A5 on the assembly line with options is $257,000. The list price of an A5 aircraft scheduled for delivery in 2017 is to be determined, Hawkins says.

CORRECTION: This article has been updated with the correct price of the 10th production A5 seaplane and the status of the 10th A5.

Source: FlightGlobal.com