As the end of the year approaches and as excitement builds for 2024, I have some news items of interest to the light aircraft community.
Right before Christmas, read about the maiden flight of Junkers side-by-side A60, a year-end recap provided by Icon Aircraft, and year highlights from leading engine producer Rotax Aircraft Engines. Let’s get started…
Junkers A60 Flies!
Earlier this year, Junkers garnered lots of attention with their highly distinctive A50 Junior, an LSA with tandem seating and a look you won’t forget. Not everyone loves tandem, though, so here comes A6o, the side-by-side sibling of Junior.
We saw Junkers Aircraft‘s’ A50 Junior at Sun ‘n Fun 2023, where it made a splashy debut and flew for the first time in front of American pilots off the grass strip in Paradise City (the airshow within an airshow at Sun ‘n Fun). While most who examined it closely admired the detailed workmanship that went into it, not everyone desires tandem seating.
No problem. Here comes the side-by-side A60. The new design recently took its maiden flight. While the design goes through further evaluations, the Swiss builder plans to debut the new model at Sun ‘n Fun 2025 (not 2024). By then Mosaic should be out and A60 should fit nicely.
Although it does manufacturing in Battle Creek, Michigan, Junkers has also adopted Lakeland, Florida, operating a classy restaurant in the airport terminal building across the runway from Sun ‘n Fun’s campus.
Junkers Aircraft said their newest models is “a contemporary adaptation of the A50 model. Inspired by the iconic A50, the A60 offers an unrivaled design that combines the aesthetics of that era with modern innovations.”
“The style and fun factor of the A60 is enhanced by the new retractable undercarriage, the nose wheel and the fact that the pilot and passenger sit next to each other,” continued Junkers. “With two different versions, a closed cabin and an open cockpit, the A60 offers a versatility that will delight pilots and aviation enthusiasts alike. Side by side it´s a celebration of freedom and a shared passion for flying.”
Junkers A60 uses a 100-horsepower Rotax 912iS engine and features Garmin G3X Touch. “The design of the A60 is not only a tribute to our historic A50, but also a bridge between tradition and modernity. We have worked carefully on every detail to create an aircraft that is unrivalled not only in performance but also in design,” says Dieter Morszeck, CEO of Junkers.
Icon Passes 200
“We completed the 200th Icon A5 earlier this fall,” stated Icon Aircraft CEO Jerry Meyer who added, “There are now more than 210 Icon A5s in 13 countries across the globe.” Along with these reports, he had more to sum up the California company’s 2023.
“For the first time ever, Icon’s sales team has several A5s available for closing in the next 30 days or less.
“Our owner community is incredibly connected and the Icon Owners & Pilots Association (IOPA) continues to grow both online and in the real world.
“We introduced the four-blade lightweight propeller at EAA AirVenture earlier this summer, which is available as an upgrade on a new A5 and can also be retrofitted on previous model years. In addition to weighing approximately eight pounds less than the stock A5 propeller, the new four-blade improves takeoff distance by 10-12 percent.
“In 2023 we’ve continued to invest resources into expanding the Icon Flight Training Network. The two most recent additions are Channel Islands Aviation in Camarillo, California, and Iconic Adventures in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. There are now more than 65 Icon Authorized Flight Instructors (IAFI) in the U.S., and we continue to expand both here and overseas. Over 16 Icon Authorized Flight Instructors were trained in 2023 alone.”
“We are very close to completing the Type Certification process with the FAA. Once the process is complete, pilots around the world will be able to import and register the Icon A5 Certified Edition in their home countries. And for U.S. customers, a Type Certified A5 simplifies the requirements for flying to the Caribbean or operating the A5 from a yacht in foreign waters.”
Record Rotax Year
“Rotax recorded a record year for four-stroke sales,” reported Aircraft Engine Manager Marc Becker in early December. More than any company in light aviation, Rotax has a pulse on aircraft production worldwide. The company does business in nearly every country on Earth, fulfilling orders for more than 200 original equipment manufacturers or OEMs, the companies that build the airplanes we know and love.
The company continues to make progress after the global upset that came with Covid-induced shipping delays (and sky rocketing costs). “We are still quoting 8-10 months for deliveries,” said Marc, though that figure is lower than most airframe producers are quoting in late 2023, so Rotax in Austria is catching up with orders.
“We are seeing lots of flight school activity,” added Marc. He noted large producers like Tecnam and BRM Aero (Bristell) have order times exceeding two years for some models.
He also noted that furious sales to the gyroplane community have moderated. “That market is is getting saturated,” Marc said, while observing a shift to more commercial sales. “Yet flight school orders have replaced those gyroplane orders. Overall, we feel the market is strong and we anticipate a productive 2024.”
Finally, Rotax scored big earlier in 2023 when they introduced their new 160-horsepower 916iS engine and featured a major new launch customer, CubCrafters. Worldwide, Rotax easily accounts for 70-80% of powerplants for aircraft covered on this website.
As this will likely be my last post before Christmas, let me take a chance to thank you for your loyal readership and your support for many years.
I wish you and your families and friends a warm, wonderful Christmas with plenty of tail winds ahead!