The ICON A5 is a hybrid aircraft design that borrows the excellent qualities of a low-and-slow light-class touring aircraft with the on-water capabilities of a full-fledged seaplane. This is made largely possible by the A5's boat-like hull design which, coupled with its high-wing mounting, ensures excellent lift-and-drag balance as well as short-field capability (a take-off run of just 640 feet from land, 840 feet on water is stated). The A5 is marketed towards the light aircraft "adventurer" clientele with the funds to spend on a "sport flyer".
Externally, the aircraft sports a wholly unique design as private flyers go: the two-seat cockpit is situated near the nose in the usual way, providing side-by-side seating and covered over by a sleek windscreen but the engine is mounted in a housing over the fuselage and to the rear of the cockpit resulting in the tail stem being low-mounted and made part of the fuselage's boat-like hull. The tail unit is largely conventional, consisting of a single vertical fin capped by a horizontal plane. Along the sides of the fuselage are "Seawings", small-area surfaces which double as water stabilizers and as a standing platform when landed on water. The undercarriage, for ground-running, is of tricycle arrangement, wheeled, and retractable into the underside of the fuselage and Seawings.
The wing mainplanes are seated on top of the fuselage and attached to short wing roots near the engine housing. The wings are shoulder-mounted (providing excellent vision for the pilot and passenger out-of-the-cockpit) and of straight-edged design. The members have also been given a navy-style folding feature in which each are hinged outboard of the roots and twist to lay along the sides of the design.
Power is from a single Rotax 912 series iS fuel-injected air-and-liquid-cooled four-cylinder engine developing 100 horsepower and driving a three-bladed propeller unit in "pusher" configuration. Performance includes a maximum speed of 109 miles-per-hour and a range out to 427 nautical miles (with a 45 minute reserve). Dimensions include a running length of 23 feet, a wingspan of 34.8 feet, and a height of 8.1 feet. Weights include an empty rating of 1,080lb with a gross/MTOW of 1,510lb. The baggage limit is 60lb according to ICON marketing materials.
The aircraft's cockpit mimics that of a sports car with all steam-based gauges clustered on the instrument panel ahead of the pilot (who is seated left). The instruments captures the airframe's and engine's status such as altitude and speed while others allow the operator to manage engine and fluids function including RPM and temperatures. A large-screen, full-color GPS system is embedded in the upper portion of the center console providing real-time in-flight data. The center console contains secondary operating systems such as radio, undercarriage controls, bilge pump and rudder control (for on water landing/maneuvering), precision trim control, and external lighting. Additional controls are positioned over and behind the pilot. The cockpit is roomy enough for just two, pilot and passenger, with open-air storage space available directly aft. The wide-view panel windscreen is largely unobstructed which, coupled with the low-profile dashboard and high-mounted wing mainplanes, make for unparalleled vision when touring at low altitudes.
The A5 cockpit also features two military fighter-like cockpit qualities of note: this includes Angle-of-Attack (AoA) indicator directly ahead of the pilot's view and flight-stick control scheme (as opposed to a control yoke). The flight stick is duplicated for both pilot and passenger.
Stated safety features of the A5 include a spin-resistance certification (by way of its "Spin-Resistant Airframe" - SRA), ICON Parachute System (IPS), and low stalling speed. Optional accessories include the ICON Amphib Trailer for towing and the ICON inflatable dock.
While the unique design has been the recipient of awards spanning from 2009 until 2015, the A5 has also been attached to several high-profile accidents including a May 2017 event that claimed the lives of two company employees and a November 2017 incident which killed MLB pitcher Roy Halladay. In both instances, the NTSB determined pilot error to be the cause. There has also been controversy with certain phrasing in the A5 purchaser's agreement - which has since been reworked at certain parts.
At any rate, the dual-quality A5 remains an interesting light-sport aircraft for those with a penchant for low-altitude adventuring - and the money to spend on it.