Recorder points to reasons for general aviation crash

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Image: © Icon Aircraft

A built-in flight data recorder is expected to give answers about the cause of a general aviation crash in the US in May.

An amphibious light sport Icon A5 struck terrain while manoeuvering near Lake Berryessa, California on 8 May this year, killing its pilot and passenger. They were the aircraft manufacturer’s chief test pilot and a recently-appointed engineer.

According to the US National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) preliminary report, ‘A witness, who was in a boat on Lake Berryessa, reported observing the accident aeroplane flying over the lake about 30 to 50 feet above the water, at what seemed to be a low speed. The witness stated that the aeroplane passed by their position and entered a nearby cove, travelling in a northerly direction. The witness heard the engine “rev up” as the aeroplane drifted to the right side of the cove. Subsequently, the aeroplane pitched upward and entered a left turn, just before it travelled beyond the witness’s field of view. The witness stated that he heard the sound of impact shortly after losing sight of the aeroplane.’

The Icon A5 is a two-seat amphibious aircraft powered by a Rotax engine. Speaking at AirVenture, in Oshkosh, USA, the company’s chief executive, Kirk Hawkins, said flight data had established ‘the cause’ of the crash, but he would say no more before the NTSB released its final report.

Icon has proposed making data and video recorders compulsory equipment on the A5. The company has made 19 aircraft and delivered seven aircraft to private customers since being founded in 2008, but proposes to rapidly increase production next year to satisfy an order bank of more than 1800 deposits, it says.

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