Icon Sets Low-Altitude Standards

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Citing a lack of FAA guidance or industry expertise in training pilots for low-altitude operations, Icon Aircraft has created guidelines for pilots flying the A5 and is preparing a low-altitude training course for pilots who want to go lower than the guidelines provide. “Our goal is to take a proactive, leadership role in the flight training process and we have developed our own low-altitude guidelines from lessons learned over decades of military, seaplane, and bush flying,” says company CEO Kirk Hawkins in a letter to owners and deposit holders. The new policy, mandatory for company flights and recommended for private flights, creates a 300-foot soft-deck, below which the flight envelope is restricted to 45 degrees in bank and 10 degrees in pitch. According to Icon, “The idea is that when in the low-altitude environment, the PIC should shift a significant portion of their attention to terrain and obstacle avoidance (like towers, power lines, etc.) while also maneuvering more benignly.” The guidelines do not specific a hard deck below which no flight should be conducted, except for reminding pilots that the FARs prohibit flight below that from which an emergency landing can be conducted in the event of an engine failure. “Seaplanes over water are usually in a position for an emergency landing if needed,” says the new policy.

Icon is preparing an advanced low-altitude training course and checkride to bring qualified pilots’ soft-deck down to 100 feet above the ground. The length and curriculum are still under development, but AVweb will report back when Icon has finalized their course offering.

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