Thursday, December 19, 2019

Unknown or Undetermined: ICON A5, N663BA; accident occurred July 27, 2019 in Littlefield Lake, Isabella County, Michigan

 Video Screenshot

Video Screenshot

 Video Screenshot

 Video Screenshot


The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Grand Rapids, Michigan
Icon Aircraft Inc; Vacaville, California

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Lake, MI
Accident Number: CEN19LA242
Date & Time: 07/27/2019, 1320 EDT
Registration: N663BA
Aircraft: ICON A5
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Unknown or undetermined
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Business 

On July 27, 2019, about 1320 eastern daylight time, an amphibious, light sport Icon Aircraft Inc. A5 airplane, N663BA, sustained substantial damage during an impact with trees and water shortly after departure from Littlefield Lake, Lake, Michigan. The airplane was registered to and operated by Icon Aircraft Inc. as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 business flight when the accident occurred. The airline transport pilot sustained minor injuries, and the pilot rated passenger sustained serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

According to the pilot, the purpose of the flight was a sales demonstration flight with a client. When he arrived at Littlefield Lake, he estimated the wind to be about 8 to 10 knots from the southwest. After landing, he water taxied to the client's lake shore home, and the client boarded the airplane. After plow taxing the airplane to the selected departure area, he said the wind had increased, and he estimated the speed to be between 12 and 15 knots. He said when he started the takeoff run, he saw three small wakes, consistent with those from wave runners, which helped propel the airplane into the air. He said that the airplane took off on the first attempt and the takeoff was normal and "there was nothing wrong with the [air]plane at all." He stated that when they got to the shoreline, they were about 50 to 60 ft above the treetops. His plan was to execute a right turn to stay over the lake in the event of an engine failure. Before starting the right turn, he looked at the angle of attack indicator and it indicated one needle width below the top of the green, and he estimated his speed between 55 and 60 knots. He initiated a 10° turn to the right to stay over the lake, and it felt like they "hit a wall." The airplane descended rapidly, clipped a tree, and impacted the water.

The pilot rated passenger, who was seated in the left seat at the time of the accident, stated that "the weather was not the best" and that the wind was shifting 180°. He said he told the pilot-in-command (PIC) this sentiment, and that it took four takeoff attempts to get airborne. After the second attempt, he said he told the PIC that it would not break his heart if they did not go. He said that the airplane felt very sluggish and acted as if it did not want to come off the water. When the airplane transitioned off the water, he estimated they were about 100 ft from the trees, headed straight toward them, and the airplane "felt very heavy." He said the PIC told him that the airplane had 485 lbs of useful load available and the fuel level was at ¾ of a tank.

A post-accident weight and balance calculation, based upon the most recent available weight and balance and information provided to a Federal Aviation Administration aviation safety inspector, revealed that the airplane was about 57 lbs over maximum gross weight and outside of the weight and center of gravity envelope limits contained within Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH). The POH lists the maximum takeoff weight as 1,510 lbs and contains the following warning:

"Warning: It is the responsibility of the pilot to make sure the airplane is loaded properly. Operation outside of the approved weight and balance limitations could result in an accident and serious or fatal injury."

A witness to the accident stated that they saw the airplane make three takeoff attempts before the airplane became airborne. The pilot wrote in a post-accident email "Plow taxing [sic] takes place at approximately 3,800 rpm, so it would likely be perceived as an attempted takeoff. Full takeoff power, however, is approximately 5,300 rpm."

Data retrieved from the airplane's Digital to Analogue Converter (DAC) revealed that the flight began about 1309 at the passenger's lake shore residence. After departing the passenger's residence, the airplane water-taxied northeast, exiting a cove that linked to the main lake. The airplane taxied about 5 minutes and 35 seconds with the engine speed less than 4,000 RPM. About 11 minutes and 10 seconds after departing the residence, the engine speed began to increase until it peaked about 5,292 RPM about 1314:47. At this time, the flaps were indicating 0°, the indicated airspeed was recorded at 26.34 knots, and the airplane was on a 125° ground track.

At 1314:49, engine RPM began to decrease, and the ground track indicated a turn toward the south. At 1314:52, the flaps were lowered to 30°, and the airplane continued the turn toward the north.

After traveling north for about a minute around 4,300 RPM, the airplane began a turn toward the west. The westerly track continued for about a minute before the airplane turned toward the southeast. While in the turn, with the flaps set at 30°, engine RPM began to increase to 5,140 RPM. At 1317:52, the recorded indicated airspeed peaked about 37 knots. The engine speed remained above 5,000 RPM until 1317:57. As the RPM decreased, the ground track began to indicate a more easterly track.

At 1318:57, the engine speed again began to increase, and the ground track began to indicate a turn back toward the southeast. The turn continued as engine speed and airspeed began to increase. At 1319:29, the engine speed indicated 5,021 RPM, the recorded indicated airspeed was 45.32 knots, the ground track was about 219° and altitude began to increase.

At 1319:34, the indicated airspeed started to oscillate between about 40 to 53 knots.

At 1319:40, the highest airspeed of the flight was recorded at 54.64 knots.

At 1319:42, the highest GPS altitude recorded was about 947 ft mean sea level (MSL). The lake level was recorded at approximately 906 ft MSL.

The last line of data was time stamped 1319:45. At that time, the engine speed was 4,839.59 RPM, the indicated airspeed was 28.69 knots, the airplane ground speed was 39.4 knots, the ground track was 353°, and the wing's angle of attack was 20.54°.

A review of video of the accident flight posted on social media from witnesses showed the airplane in a nose-high attitude with the flaps extended as it approached trees during the initial climb. As the airplane reached about the midpoint of a stand of trees, the angle of attack appeared to increase and the nose dropped. The right wing then lowered and impacted one of the trees. The airplane subsequently descended rapidly into the water.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: ICON
Registration: N663BA
Model/Series: A5 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2016
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Special Light-Sport
Serial Number: 00004
Landing Gear Type: Amphibian
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 07/03/2019, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1510 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 20 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 620 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Rotax
ELT: Installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: 912
Registered Owner: Icon Aircraft Incorporated
Rated Power: 100 hp
Operator: Icon Aircraft Incorporated
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation:
Distance from Accident Site:
Observation Time:
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts:
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:
Wind Direction:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:
Altimeter Setting:
Temperature/Dew Point:
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point: Lake, MI (n/a)
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Destination: Lake, MI (n/a)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time:  EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 43.772222, -84.946111 (est)


  1. I laughed way back when I saw the Icon's pathetic useful load. Now I really think that 2nd seat needs to be removed for safety sake. Bunch of unsuspecting pax are gonna be injured by cowboys. If Icon's own pilots can't conduct their own flights safely (legally) then how is the average joe expected to stand a chance?

  2. Despite trying hard it seems one thing after another with this type of aircraft,clearly everything was wrong here with engine not producing enough power after those take off attempts with two up.

  3. There goes $400,000. down the drain. Anybody that would (attempt) fly in one of these contraptions needs to have their head examined.


  4. It doesn't take an ATP to know the A5 is potential death trap.