NTSB Completes Icon Investigation
The NTSB on Tuesday released its final report on the Icon A5 crash on May 8 that took the lives of two Icon employees, pilot Jon Karkow and passenger Cagri Sever. The investigators found the probable cause of the accident was “the pilot's failure to maintain clearance from terrain while maneuvering at a low altitude.” Contributing to the accident was the pilot's mistaken entry into a canyon surrounded by steep rising terrain while at a low altitude, for reasons that could not be determined. The investigators didn’t find any mechanical problem or failure with the aircraft that contributed to the accident. They did report that in examining the wreckage, they found that the ballistic parachute handle was partially extended, and the pin was removed.
The report states it’s “likely that the pilot mistakenly thought the canyon that he entered was a different canyon that led to the larger, open portion of the lake.” Also, the report continues, “it is likely that, once the pilot realized there was no exit from the canyon, he attempted to perform a 180-degree left turn to exit in the direction from which he entered.” However, the NTSB found that based upon data in the Pilot's Operating Handbook for the A5, the airplane's altitude above the water's surface and its indicated airspeed, and the ridge line elevations in the area adjacent to the accident site, “the airplane would have not been able to climb out of the rising terrain that surrounded the area, which led to [the pilot’s] failure to maintain clearance from terrain.”
Icon released a statement on Tuesday noting that investigators found “the airplane appeared to be operating normally at the time of the accident and that the ‘post‐accident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of any preexisting mechanical malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation.’” Icon CEO Kirk Hawkins said the NTSB report is “an important step in reaching closure for the families of Jon and Cagri as well as the Icon team after such a traumatic loss.” Sever was a new employee in the engineering department, and Karkow was a founding member of the Icon team and lead aeronautical engineer on the A5. “The A5 not only reflects his genius, it represents his love for flying in its purest form – it was his final gift to aviation,” said Hawkins.