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ICON Rube Goldberg


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The ICON A5 has emerged as just that, a Rube Goldberg aircraft.  A Rube Goldberg machine is a contraption, invention, device or apparatus that is deliberately over-engineered to perform a simple task in a complicated fashion at laughable cost.


Flying Magazine test flew and reports and verifies what some suspected.


"Hovering around 85 knots after we leveled off, cruise speed is not one of the Icon's strong points. But again, cross-country traveling was not included in the list of design goals"
"The single fuel tank, which has a total capacity of 20 gallons"
"Pusher engines can be tough to keep cool, especially when they are mounted behind the fuselage, but Icon says its engineers solved the issue by widening the cowl and adding a cooling fan on the prop shaft."
"The question is: Will the customers who expected to pay around $140,000 (in 2008 dollars), be willing to pay the price tag for the first 100 airplanes of $247,000?"
What do you need to fly an ICON?   A minimum of a Sport Pilot certificate with a seaplane endorsement.  You will need to spend another $2500 on transition training after that...
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$1250 for 4 hours transition if you have a seaplane rating or endorsement.   Please get it right.  But, if you're going to pay that for an LSA seaplane, transition cost doesn't matter.


That's what you took away from an $250k, 85kt seaplane with a 20 gallon tank, hand-crank folding wings and a $15k trailer that costs extra?

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A lot of people interested in this plane aren't motivated by cost. If that's all it was about, then I would ask, why do we even buy airplanes? It would be cheaper to travel by train or boat.


The Icon plays on other strengths, such as being a retractable amphibian (Which, to be honest, that exemption is bullshit, the rest of us have to set the wheel position by hand while it's on the ground). It's basically a flying jet ski. Icon knew how to play up the strengths and downplay the weaknesses, and it works for the people that buy it.


I could also ask, why buy a new LSA when you can go buy an old and well maintained rag and tube airplane with only marginally lower performance characteristics for 1/4th the cost.


It's all about how we assign value. :)

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Most things are 'wrong' about it, it seems: it's slow, heavy, short on range, short on useful load and it's hugely expensive.

And it doesn't strike me as particularly pretty.  


I'd be nervous if I had an investment in the project. 


On the other hand, I've often been surprised by the success some products have enjoyed by thorough and persistent persuasion of the public. 


I just can't see this one ever showing a profit.

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