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Carry this plane in your truck, fly and float too!

Last updated on: July 8, 2011 13:59 IST

Carry this plane in your truck, fly and float too!

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Have you ever seen or flown a small sport plane which can take off and land on water or ground, has foldable wings so that you can carry it on your trailer-truck and park it in your garage?

Photographs, courtesy: Icon Aircraft.

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Image: ICON A5.

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Now this may not remain a dream, as a prototype of the American light-sport aircraft (LSA) which is being tested for the past three years is likely to enter the production line in the second quarter of 2012.

The plane will cost you $139,000 (standard equipment).

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Image: ICON A5.

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The two-seater ICON A5 is being developed by California-based Icon Aircraft. Its wings can be folded easily from the cockpit in under five minutes while on water or land.

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Image: ICON A5.

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The company last week announced that it closed a $25 million round of equity infusion in June to fund the project through the completion of its ongoing engineering development program, manufacturing setup and the beginning of production of the amphibious sport plane.

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Image: ICON A5.

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The financing was led by investors Satyen Patel and Bart Becht, who have deep expertise in building consumer product companies.

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Image: ICON A5.

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Patel has been associated with a top IT- BPO firm and worked at senior positions with global brands like Pepsi-Cola International and Nike.

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Icon is looking at India to set up a supply chain base for spares and other essential components, besides trying to focus on the growing market of high net-worth individuals who could be interested in buying this aircraft, Patel told PTI on phone from the US.

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Other investors include Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, former Chairman and CEO of Boeing Phil Condit and several top Silicon Valley venture capitalists.

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The company was started in 2005 by CEO Kirk Hawkins and COO Steen Strand, who met at Stanford University while pursuing degrees in business and product design, respectively.

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Kirk Hawkins is an accomplished engineer, former US Air Force F-16 pilot, and long-time motorsport enthusiast.

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Image: Steen Strand, COO and Kirk Hawkins (R) CEO in front of the A5.

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"We have a two-pronged strategy for India that will be part of our global strategic plan which will be finalised over the next 3-6 months. India features very importantly in our plans," Patel, who is now on the Icon Board, said.

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"The first part of the strategy is to source components for the aircraft, making India an important and reliable supply base along with China," he said.

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"We will try to develop a supply chain with Indian firms. We may also look at starting a sub-assembly in India in the long run," he said while noting that HAL and Indian firms were already manufacturing components for various aircraft produced by Airbus and Boeing, including the super-jumbo A-380s and B-777s. They were also associated with fighter jets like the MiG aircraft series.

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"Based on our surveys, we could also look at international production line. But all this have to be discussed and finalised," Patel said.

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Image: ICON A5.

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The second part of the Icon strategy would be to study the market for the A5 planes in India. "It is a fairly affordable product for high net-worth individuals who can carry out short and quick business trips," Patel said.

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"We are already looking at markets in the US, Canada, Western Europe and the Middle East," he said, adding that since the aircraft was "an affordable luxury and there are a considerable number of buyers of such products in India, we feel the country has a potential to become a market for this aircraft".

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Patel said A5 could be flown for short business trips from a city to satellite locations around it.

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"You can fly from Pune to Nagpur or Mumbai or from Ahmedabad to Jamnagar or Surat. It has a range of 50 miles with 20 gallons of gas," he said.

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ICON's engineering and development team came from Burt Rutan's famed Scaled Composites, which created such record setting projects as Voyager, Global Flyer, the X-Prize winning SpaceShipOne, and Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo.

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The company has already received order for 500 planes. The design has been refined to make the plane safer and simpler to fly.


Image: ICON A5.

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