Kirk and Steen speak to design's power to unleash new markets. They tell the story of how ICON Aircraft set out to maximize the vast potential of the FAA's regulatory changes by creating, for the first time, a recreational powersport for flying.
They discuss the challenges in the development of the ICON A5, an airplane that makes flying more accessible, safer, and more enticing than ever before.
Before graduating from Stanford Business School in 2005 and founding ICON, Kirk Hawkins flew F-16s in the U.S. Air Force and 767s for American Airlines. Prior to the USAF, he worked in both aviation and aerospace engineering most of his early career.
After earning his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Clemson University, he was the Director of Engineering at an aerospace contractor before returning for his Masters in Engineering from Stanford University in 1995, specializing in manufacturing.
Hawkins grew up racing motocross and has been an avid sport and flying enthusiast for 25 years. He has built and flown ultralight and experimental aircraft, and has logged nearly 1000 skydives. He is also a seaplane instructor pilot with hundreds of hours bush flying in Alaska. Today he is an active snowboarder, wake-boarder, and SCUBA diver, as well as a devoted member of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America for more than 10 years.
Award-winning designer Bill Moggridge is a founder of IDEO, one of the most successful design firms in the world and one of the first to integrate the design of software and hardware into the practice of industrial design.
He has been Visiting Professor in Interaction Design at the Royal College of Art in London, Lecturer in Design at the London Business School, member of the Steering Committee for the Interaction Design Institute in Ivrea, Italy, and is currently Consulting Associate Professor in the Joint Program in Design at Stanford University.
Moggridge's career has had three phases; first as designer, then as a manager of design, and now as a communicator, working as a writer, graphic designer and video maker. His fascination with design, and with what people want from everyday things, has given him a broad view of the information revolution.
Steen Strand is a seasoned sports product entrepreneur with 14 years of hands-on operational startup experience. Strand's expertise is in product design, marketing and brand building. Early in his career he worked at IDEO, one of the world's leading design consultancies before founding Freebord, a skateboard company with a global subculture of fanatical riders.
He later served as COO and Director of Product at Secara, a funded healthcare startup. Steen received his MS in Product Design from Stanford University, where he periodically instructs courses in Product Design. Steen's designs have been featured in numerous TV shows, websites and magazines, including Time, Forbes, Newsweek and Wired.
He has lectured on design and business in many venues, including Stanford, Yale, MIT's Media Lab, and Xerox PARC. Prior to attending Stanford, Strand worked in finance at Lehman Brothers and co-founded Fletcher Asset Management, an early hedge fund with over $500 million in assets. He received his AB in Economics, magna cum laude, from Harvard.
Steen Strand and Kirk Hawkins, founders of ICON Aircraft, describe the features of their groundbreaking A5 light-sport aircraft. They show video demonstrating the personal aircraft handles more like a Jet Ski than a Cessna.
Looks like a lot of fun. It will be interesting to see if it will hold the promise to open up the air for "sports pilots". The risk that I can see is that many "sports pilots" will overestimate their actual capabilities as aviators and take on challenging situations that they won't be able to handle. Sadly, unlike modern road and water vehicles, the likelihood that the airframe will save these people from themselves is probably slim to nil... did anybody test what the airframe looks like after a crash? Does it survive in any better condition than the typical competitor products that these guys accuse of being "boring"?
Just a thought.
why no more comments since last dec? I would really like to hear Rob pushback more in response to GrahamB--not because I'm rooting for ICON's failure, but for exactly the opposite. But the media and public in general must know what regulatory hurdles must be addressed (by ICON, it's distribution network, and the various kinds of landing/launching sites) so that we can begin to expose and scrutinize the ways & means in which the bureaucratic regulatory bodies destroy (or, at least, limit) innovation and wealth-creation. Moreover, and just as importantly, we must also anticipate the sundry ways in which some of those same bureaucratic governmental agencies plus others will implement and enforce coercive, intrusive, overbearing laws that make it very difficult (if not impossible) for potential consumer-pilots and current pilots to purchase and use this spectacular miracle in modern engineering. Remember, only the spontaneous/emergent order created by individuals who are free to engage in exchanges, without coercive interference (or threat thereof) by an uninvited third-party, can create and/or permit most desirable outcomes for all. Countless times, beginning at least a half-century ago, empirical evidence reported in peer-reviewed journals has clearly demonstrated that regulations do not (in fact, CANNOT) provide net positive outcomes; and most of the time the regulations harm those whom the government purports to be helping.
I'd watch out for the makers of small passenger airplanes and those little helicopter/parasailing-looking machines. They'll feel threatened by this new technology and the new market it will spawn. It could be just like when the candle-maker industry petitioned the French government to implement regulations controlling the French citizens' "overuse" of sunlight by leaving window-shades/curtains open during the daytime. The horse-and-buggy industry viciously attacked the emerging automobile industry on the grounds that the millions of displaced workers would go starving in the streets.
Whether on a grand scale or among a relatively few (rationally) self-interested stakeholders, look for both big-government progressive-liberals and self-declared (yet hypocritical) "conservative Republicans" to align themselves with various different stakeholders involved in and/or impacted by this emerging market. Nothing positive could possibly come from any of it. Let's stand up to them for once; let's tell them to "shut-up" or we'll fire them; let's remind them that they cannot protect consumers--only watch-dog groups, good media, privately-held certifiers (like U.L.), and the use of/threat of civil litigation can actually help to protect us; let's allow the first phase of the flying-cars industrial revolution to "get off of the ground"!
Beautiful! What a team. You guys appear to be a case study of innovation excellence and are certainly inspirational. May good fortune rain down on you all, you deserve it. Now for me, how to raise the dosh? Non-Pilot 'Brad' from New Zealand.
Very innovative & exciting, and I'd love to have one. As a licensed land and seaplane pilot, however, I think the difficulties in popularizing this amphibian in the target audience (upscale sports enthusiasts) and in the target environment (recreational waterways) will be very limiting. The existing financial and regulatory environment for airplanes is becoming more restrictive and not less; and this new flashy toy crosses directly into that well protected and difficult environment as soon as it leaves the ground. Good Luck! I'll be watching with interest.