Early buyers of the Icon A5 light sport amphibian who were disappointed by a one-year production delay announced over the summer are now getting the chance to experience their airplanes on some incredible adventures thanks to innovative thinking on the part of manufacturer Icon Aircraft.
The California company is leasing back the first couple dozen A5s from early deposit holders. The airplanes are being put to use in Icon’s training program at bases in northern California and Florida. Several of those customers have completed the training and are now able to take their airplanes on enjoyable flying trips. Best of all, their purchase agreements with Icon stipulate that they will receive brand-new airplanes for no additional cost once full-rate production begins next summer.
Mike Sievert, the chief operating officer for T-Mobile in Seattle, said it has been the perfect compromise, allowing him and his wife, Suzanne, to enjoy the A5 on trips to Napa and Sonoma Valley after he completed the transition training course in Vacaville, California, in September.
“The airplane is just incredible,” Sievert told Flying. “I have never had a bigger smile on my face than I did after my first weekend flying the A5 with my wife.”
He said he’s planning on flying the A5 on more excursions in the coming months and is looking forward to receiving his new airplane later next year, which he’ll base at an airport near his home outside Seattle. Sievert said he’s especially looking forward to taking his A5 to his summer home in the San Juan Islands.
He added that he wasn’t upset by the original Icon purchase agreement that included what many saw as onerous restrictions, including a clause that required owners to scrap their planes after 30 years of use, a stipulation that has since been removed. He said he also is supportive of Icon’s strategy to move composite work to Mexico as a way of keeping costs in check and controlling all facets of production.
Recently, Flying was given the chance to experience Icon’s transition training program when Executive Editor Pia Bergqvist travelled to Vacaville to learn the nuances of flying the A5 in a program based loosely on military flying practices. The best part? Now that she’s been checked out, she can return to northern California anytime she wants to rent an A5 and fly it solo.
Be sure to check out the January issue of Flying for a full report on Icon’s transition training program.