The aerospace industry has long been at the leading edge of manufacturing process and technology, constantly pushing the limits of man and machine in the pursuit of enhanced performance, function, and safety.
And while many structural advancements have played a role in the evolution of aerospace manufacturing, carbon composites sit at the forefront. The formula of lightweight + strong + durable is ideal for an industry where these elements always seem to be at odds with one another.
But carbon fiber manufacturing is not easy. It’s a blend of art and science that requires sophisticated precision equipment and highly qualified technicians and engineers, working in tandem to meet extremely tight tolerances.
The ICON A5 Light-sport Aircraft (LSA) is an amphibious, two-seat recreational airplane manufactured by ICON Aircraft. Its airframe is made entirely of carbon fiber, and the plane is designed to be easy to fly, safe to operate, fun, and incredibly versatile, including amphibious capabilities and folding wings that allow for trailering and off-airport storage.
In the beginning, ICON worked with composite manufacturing suppliers for parts, but the team knew that this was an expertise they needed to bring in house to meet their strict standards for part quality, to have better control of the supply chain, and to improve upon its own core competency to manufacturer carbon fiber for itself (and possibly others).