ICON Aircraft Looking at Vacaville, CA for Manufacturing Facility

Los Angeles, California-based ICON Aircraft has filed a letter of intent with the City of Vacaville, CA for setting up a facility next to Nut Tree Airport for manufacturing its light sport aircraft (LSA).

ICON Aircraft A5 LSA

ICON Aircraft A5 LSA (photo – iconaircraft.com)

ICON was launched in 2005 by Kirk Hawkins after the FAA created a new LSA category in 2004 that had significantly reduced regulatory burdens for both LSA manufacturers and users.

ICON’s introductory LSA model – the long-awaited amphibious ICON A5, has retractable landing gear, uses automotive fuel, can land and take-off on water as well as on runways, and can fly at a maximum speed of 120 mph.

From the cockpit, it looks more like a car for two, and has been designed and priced to make it easier for new people to take up flying in their own plane. Pilots need to log only 20 hours of flight time to get the LSA license, which is half the time needed for other aircraft.

ICON’s A5 has been under development longer than expected, but the company still has a long and loyal list of almost 1,000 customers who have paid deposits and are eagerly waiting to get their own sport aircraft.

Until now, ICON has based its operations entirely in Southern California. Apart from the administrative headquarters in Los Angeles, Icon also has development, testing and manufacturing teams in a facility in Tehachapi, CA.

The proposed move to the existing 137,940-square-foot building at 2141 Beechcraft Road in Vacaville would take them a long way over to Northern California, in between San Francisco and Sacramento.

ICON’s latest outreach to Vacaville officials for support and incentives was preceded by the company raising $60 million in May 2013 as part of its fourth and final equity funding round.

The company said it would use the new funding to complete preparations for production, regulatory compliance and boost R&D for adding new aircraft models.

If they go ahead with the proposal, Vacaville stands to gain millions of these dollars in investments and new sales, property and personal taxes, and up to 500 new general aviation manufacturing and sales jobs. Not to mention spending by ICON’s customers who will stay in the city when they come for buying a plane and getting training.

ICON first started looking at sites for relocation in 2010. Vacaville has been pursuing this project since 2011 in partnership with Nut Tree Airport management and other local organizations including Solano Community College, the Solano Economic Development Corporation and Solano County officials.

The Vacaville City Council will be meeting on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 where it will consider a resolution authorizing city manager Laura C. Kuhn to execute the non-binding letter of intent (pdf file) with ICON Aircraft Inc.

Apart from exemptions of a percentage of sales tax based on job creation and average wage commitments by ICON, the letter of intent also seeks about $250,000 as a loan for the permitting process, to be paid back from future sales associated with the project.

ICON is also asking for renaming of streets in the area and fast-tracking of all the permits required for site improvements and construction.

Solano Community College may enter into a partnership with ICON wherein it provides training for ICON employees under its Aeronautics Program, and may even expand its curriculum to match ICON’s needs.

The letter of intent states that the City and ICON will attempt to come to an agreement within 60 days, and hope to submit an actual agreement for the City Council’s approval on Aug 13, 2013.

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