A lawsuit by a group of minority shareholders against the Chinese entity Shanghai Pudong Science and Technology Investment, Inc. (PTSI), the majority group that owns Icon, is alleging that the company plans to move the company’s technology to China. It also addresses the effect that such a transfer would have on the have on the company’s fortunes and, hence, its shareholders’ portfolios. If the company’s U.S. presence goes away, the thinking is, the value of its stock might decline.
The individuals involved in the suit include former Boeing CEO and Icon board member Phil Condit and Icon founder and former CEO Kirk Hawkins, for whom Icon was more than an any LSA. The suit further alleges that PSTI is passing up good business opportunities because the company doesn’t want to succeed and is therefore defrauding minority shareholders.
Although its airplane, the A5, an LSA amphibian, has been around for more than a decade, it hasn’t enjoyed sales success. The company has delivered just over 100 Icon A5s since the first went to a customer in 2015. And the price has risen from around $140,000 for the initial aircraft to $389,00 for a fully equipped model today.
Along the way the program suffered with long delays in bringing the aircraft to market. Still, the plane itself is an impressive one, with high build quality of the plane and a stall resistant design. The FAA granted Icon an exemption to the LSA weight limit to accommodate the stall-resistant design.
The aircraft has been involved in a couple of very high-profile fatal accidents, including one in which two Icon employees were killed when the pilot accidentally flew into a canyon with no outlet. The other was the crash of an Icon flown by Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Roy Halladay, who died in the crash of his LSA amphibian into Tampa Bay after aggressively maneuvering the plane at very low level. Neither was the fault of the airplane.
We’ll keep you apprised of further developments.