Top Letters And Comments, October 18, 2019

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What’s the Outlook for Icon?

What amazes me is Icon is another example of aircraft design, certification, and manufacturing that has no conception of development / manufacturing cost, ROI, and an understanding of the aviation market they insist they are trying to serve.

Where in the world is this kind of company leadership ineptness coming from? And why does it congregate, propagate, continue, and thrive in aviation? I cannot think of any other corporate venture that any investor would actually pay for this type of company leadership…if you can call it leadership at all.

It seems like aviation has self-styled visionary people coming from somewhere whose background and expertise has no bearing regarding the realities of flying. Yet, there are investors who seem to flock to these aviation promise-makers offering enough money to convince an increasingly skeptical US pilot population to at least put a little dough down in the form of a deposit. Certified aviation seems to be the only market that measures itself by the number of deposits rather than airplanes being delivered.

I find it amusing that they put an Icon A5 in a Lambo showroom…or other high-end super-car dealerships. These buyers don’t buy these to drive. They end up in garages with car covers on them or are trailer queens for occasional car shows. They are $200-400k status symbols. Most of those cars demand a professional driver to realize their performance potential. But these buyers own them not for performance use but for show. Is this the kind person who will invest the time, money, and most importantly, the dedication to become a proficient pilot?

If a visionary cannot bring a $80K airplane to market profitably, the market, upward price wise, is already saturated. Plenty of $125-250K airplanes to pick from…LSA to back-country types. Want 4 place? $400-600K. Want the wheels to disappear with a serious 4 place traveler…$600-$1 million is the entry price to scratch that itch.

Out of a country of 330 million or so…with the most freedom to fly…only about a 1,000 people a year in total want to buy a certified piston single no matter if it is something you can land on water, aviate with no medical, or a fly high and go fast cross country machine.

What these visionaries need is an education by Van’s, Kitfox, Just Aircraft, Aviat, Cubcrafters, etc. on what the aviation consumer really wants. And maybe a pilot’s license, too. Cirrus, Piper, and Textron can only collectively dream of selling what Van’s has already done, and continues to do.

There is truly an a– for every seat. In the aviation world, it is the Chinese government/military/consortium. Icon is just another of several aviation companies who could not stay solvent without Chinese investment and eventual ownership. Mao to the aviation rescue.

Jim H.

I’m one of the many hundreds of initial deposit holders who for years waited and watched and hoped that ICON would deliver what they promised: a simple, fun, safe and sexy little flying boat, at an LSA price. As a lifelong pilot with a slew of ratings, I even went through ICON’s flight training program in CA (it was well run and a ton of fun) before I reluctantly canceled my order. While the price hikes and changing personal circumstances were factors, in the end it was the paltry useful load and marginal power that convinced me to back away from purchasing one.

Stephen Z.

Poll: Do You Agree That the FAA Over Delegated to Boeing on the 737 MAX Cert?

Much of the problem lies with the arrogance of top management in FAA and the industry in general. If engineers and mechanics are critical, they will find themselves out of a job. Workshops find their business going to the lowest bidders.

Oliver D.

I missed the option in which there is a clear distinction between the cause being at Boeing or the lack of regulations. The regulations taken into account would have prevented the one sensor design overriding a main control surface in such a huge degree.

Gerhard P.

  • They had to. The FAA never has and never will have the expertise in house to do all of the certification, just like they don’t have the manpower and associated expertise to do all of the pilot checkrides in the country.
  • I would not expect the FAA certifiers to find a problem that had been overlooked by Boeing’s team. If they could do that they would have been recruited by Boeing.
  • No, but the system function should have been more clearly described and dual AOA comparison should have been the standard configuration.
  • The FAA can’t be expected to go through every line of code on an airliner. The FAA needs to review Boeing’s process of testing code.
  • Boeing appears to be not exactly truthful, or worse – ignorant. Doubt FAA has technical people to overcome that.
  • Congress mandated that the FAA delegate certification work to Boeing!
  • The main fault was Boeing engineers not understanding the consequence of a single component failure. The FAA oversees the process, but Boeing should be accountable for system failures.
  • No. I think really getting an airplane right is way beyond inspection. Boeing lost its way and that’s what was missed.
  • FAA is buck passing.
  • The truth is much more complex. A major problem is that Boeing got rid of experience. Outsourced software development.
  • No, but shows a lack of FAA oversight of Safety Management System and general culture shifts at Boeing.
  • The FAA needs more direct oversight on each modification of the original type certificate.
  • Yes, but the process to select delegates should also be examined.
  • I think Boeing management overrode designers.
  • Delegation of safety certification duties has been on the rise for decades. This trend appears as though it will continue well into the future. The missing piece appears to be accountability. Whoever solves that one deserves a raise!
  • No. Boeing’s knowledge runs circles around the FAA bozo’s. This was a lapse by Boeing and has been corrected.
  • Way more; it’s the fox guarding the henhouse.
  • I think Boeing misused their delegated authority.
  • FAA oversight of manufacturer conclusions needs improvement.
  • Too much trust and not enough verification…
  • No, FAA inspectors are never as qualified as the manufacturer pilots to evaluate aircraft.
  • I am not completely convinced either way at this time.
  • Yes, because oversight responsibility cannot be delegated. (The FAA is not authorized to delegate safety responsibilities.)
  • Aircraft avionics are complicated, everyone’s just pointing fingers.
  • When airspeed is decreasing and horns are blowing, you disconnect the autopilot and fly the plane while figuring out what’s the matter. The mass/energy relationship in a large airliner makes taking timely appropriate action far more important. Today’s younger generation of pilots can’t fall back on skills they really never acquired.
  • Delegation was probably fine, oversight was insufficient.
  • It’s all about cutting corners to keep costs down.
  • FAA must be technically incompetent to allow single sensor pitch control.
  • If the FAA did all of the testing/certification work there would be NO NEW AMERICAN BUILT AIRPLANES BUILT!!!!!
  • Boeing should get it right, regardless of delegation.
  • Airlines drove this the whole way.
  • Uncertain, needs through review of internal process.
  • Yes, Boeing proved that they can’t handle it.
  • Way too much delegated to Boeing.
  • No, Boeing underperformed its responsibilities.
  • FAA delegation is proper and necessary. Boeing either did not take their delegated responsibilities seriously, or they executed them in bad faith.
  • I think the blame is entirely on Boeing engineers, not the FAA.
  • Criminal negligence by FAA.
  • No, Boeing knows the ramifications of making a mistake like this, I believe that this was completely unintentional and that the USA pilots did not have any problems because of better training and skill.
  • I have yet to see the results/report from the risk analysis of the “new improved system”. Surely the civilian aerospace teams have system safety working groups like the ones we had in the Navy.
  • Boeing is more qualified than the FAA.
  • All certs are over delegated.
  • Yes: FAA and Boeing had a too close relationship where money and time were more important than creating a safe product.
  • I think we pushed the FAA to over delegate.
  • FAA failed on this one.
  • Boeing relied too much on the skill, experience, and training of the pilots to handle the problem safely.
  • Incompetence from the very top including the FAA oversight folks.
  • No, but Boeing did not meet their obligations.
  • The delegation process has been used successfully for years. The hole needs to be plugged that allowed several entities to miss the problem.
  • You assume the FAA would catch the error!
  • Clearly Boeing over-delegated to the bean counters and marketing.
  • Maybe, but lack of qualified review by the FAA may have been the larger problem. Few FAA personnel have the in-depth knowledge and experience to properly oversee these technological advances.
  • Nothing wrong with additional manufacturer participation, but an in-depth review is needed periodically.
  • Yes. In an era of deregulation, the whole Max 8 disaster was an accident waiting to happen. Don’t let marketing build aircraft.
  • It’s becoming very complex for the FAA to handle. Internal procedures and responsibilities at Boeing look suspect.
  • FAA delegates in many areas, this is one of them.
  • So glad the feds have time to hassle the guys safely flying models instead of supervising Boeing.
  • It’s what happens when you put marketing in charge!
  • No. I think Boeing did a poor job of design and implementation of the new system and did their best to mask the impacts of the system to certification personnel, airlines flying the a/c, and PILOTS!
  • The Airbus 300 has a same system as the max and Delta had an incident similar to the Max but the pilots’ skill resulted in a safe landing. No action was taken to require further testing or mods to the system. The Max is still grounded and the Airbus is still flying.
  • There is blame on both sides.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Had read all the comments, & only ONE reflected my thoughts.
    His comment- “USA pilots did not have any problems because of better training and skill.”
    Only foreign carriers had this disaster – did you wonder about that? Humm