The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its preliminary report regarding last week’s fatal accident that claimed the lives of two ICON employees at Lake Berryessa, California.
The ICON A5 aircraft was piloted by ICON’s Engineering Fellow and Chief Test Pilot Jon Karkow. Also aboard was ICON’s recently hired Director of Engineering, Cagri Sever. The flight was Sever’s first in the A5 and was set to be his introduction to the product on which he would be working at ICON.
“This was a devastating personal loss for the ICON team,” said Kirk Hawkins, ICON’s CEO and Founder. “We didn’t just lose employees; we lost family members. Jon and Cagri were both passionate engineers who were inspired by the mission to make personal flying more accessible. Jon was an aviation legend who spent 21 years at Scaled Composites before dedicating the last ten years of his career to ICON developing the A5, initially as ICON’s Lead Aero Engineer and then as Engineering Fellow. Cagri joined ICON as Director of Engineering a week prior to the accident after a distinguished rise through Ford Motor Company’s engineering organization. We will miss them both tremendously, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families.”
ICON has been working closely with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to support its investigation. In addition to investigating the crash site, the NTSB obtained an eyewitness statement and has also reviewed the aircraft’s Flight Data Recorder (FDR) together with ICON engineers. The NTSB preliminary report included details from the eyewitness account indicating that the aircraft was flying slowly at about 50 feet over the water where it entered a steep, narrow canyon. The aircraft was then observed to increase power, pitch up, and enter a left turn in the canyon before it impacted the side of the lake bank.
“We’re unsure why the plane flew into such a narrow canyon that had no outlet,” said Shane Sullivan, ICON’s Director of Flight. “We’re deeply saddened and fully committed to learning whatever we can from this tragic situation. Jon and Cagri were part of the ICON family.” The NTSB will produce a final report, which typically takes several months. The report will contain the facts and circumstances related to the accident, along with a determination of the probable cause.
ICON initially suspended all flight operations of the A5 fleet immediately after the accident. Flight operations have now resumed following the NTSB preliminary report.
NTSB preliminary report reads:
On May 8, 2017, about 0908 Pacific daylight time, an amphibious light sport Icon Aircraft Inc. A5, N184BA, impacted terrain while maneuvering near Lake Berryessa, California. The commercial pilot and passenger were fatally injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to a private individual and operated by Icon Aircraft Inc., Vacaville, California, as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 business flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed near the accident site about the time of the accident and no flight plan was filed. The local flight originated from the Nut Tree Airport (VCB), Vacaville, California, at 0852.
Representatives from Icon Aircraft reported that the pilot was conducting a new employee familiarization flight with the passenger, who was recently hired by the company. A witness, who was in a boat on Lake Berryessa, reported observing the accident airplane flying over the lake about 30 to 50 feet above the water, at what seemed to be a low speed. The witness stated that the airplane passed by their position and entered a nearby cove, traveling in a northerly direction. The witness heard the engine “rev up” as the airplane drifted to the right side of the cove. Subsequently, the airplane pitched upward and entered a left turn, just before it traveled beyond the witness’s field of view. The witness stated that he heard the sound of impact shortly after losing visual site of the airplane.
Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted terrain and came to rest upright in the northern area of Little Portuguese Canyon on Lake Berryessa. All major structural components of the airplane were located at the accident site. The fuselage, right wing, and a portion of the empennage were located on the shoreline along a steep embankment, and the outboard portion of the left wing and left side of the empennage were partially submerged in water.