By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
Cirrus Aircraft will build "a significant portion" of the composite airframe components for the Icon A5 light sport aircraft, the two companies announced on Monday. Cirrus will add up to 60 jobs over the next 18 months or so to handle the extra work, Cirrus spokesman Todd Simmons told AVweb. "It could be even more," Simmons said. Composite component production will begin by the end of this year at the Cirrus facility in Grand Forks, N.D., and the first production aircraft will be completed next summer, according to the news release. Icon expects the effort to produce about 50 airframes in the first 12 months, and about 250 to 300 in the second 12 months, Icon spokesperson Amy Julian told AVweb.
It's unusual for Cirrus to manufacture parts for other companies, Simmons said, but the concept is not unprecedented. "We've looked at other projects in the past," he said, citing for example a UAV project that was considered about a decade ago. "But never on this scale. So, in that sense, this is new for Cirrus." Icon and Cirrus are compatible companies that "view the world in a similar way," he said. Icon will ship the composite assemblies supplied by Cirrus and others to its facility in Tehachapi, Calif., where all design, system integration, final assembly, finishing and testing will take place. Icon says it has more than 850 deposits for its amphibious LSA. Cirrus CEO Dale Klapmeier said, "We're delighted to be able to play a meaningful role in bringing [the A5] to production
We believe that light sport aircraft and sport pilots are critically important to the growth and future of aviation." Icon recently asked the FAA for an exemption that would allow the A5 to be 250 pounds above the LSA weight limit to accommodate spin-resistant structures. The FAA hasn't said when it will respond to that request.