Icon sales agreement: readers weigh in.
The arrogance of Icon Aircraft is truly astounding. What we are possibly seeing play out before us is the short life of a new aviation firm--from the potential bankruptcy and fire sale of the assets--to a more savvy customer-oriented entrepreneur/investor group.
Icon has a brief and futile future unless it becomes commercial and customer-centered right now and stops kowtowing to the legal department.
Can you imagine Bill Lear approaching the fledgling light jet market with that kind of fearful paperwork when selling the original Lear 24 concept aircraft?
It's all about management losing control of customer relations and handing off responsibility to the lawyers, who can kill a deal faster than a pilot trapped in a flat spin.
Unfortunately, this has happened before. The initial investors in a lawyer-driven company get burnt.
Consider Eclipse and other aviation startups that initially failed, only to be reconfigured when a customer-centered, middle-of-the-line approach is not forthcoming, especially with regard to legal and operating terms and conditions.
Icon and its A5 could thrive under sensible ownership that's not saddled by debt, fear or an expensive noncommercial legal department intent on ruining a great idea.
As an attorney, CFI and an aircraft owner, I would run--not walk--away from Icon's diabolically written sales contract. A company that comes across as not willing to stand behind its product is a company that I'm not willing to stand behind.
We think Icon gets the message loud and clear. Since we covered the controversial sales agreement in our June 2016 issue, Icon has responded to the opposition of the agreement. In a letter issued to the press, Icon CEO Kirk Hawkins said the company is open to changing the buyer's agreement and "doing what is ultimately right for our owners, the industry and the company." Hawkins went as far as saying, "If we need to improve our contract to help safely grow our industry, we will."
Hawkins admitted in a phone conference with the aviation press that the first revision of the 40-page sales agreement was overly complicated and had too much legalese. "It should not have gone out in the form it did without explanation," he said.
For starters, the new agreement will be shorter, the 30-year airframe life limit will be removed and the subjective "responsible flier clause," in which buyers sign off as being safe, competent and respectful, has been removed.
We think this is a step in the right direction and commend Icon for addressing the controversy head-on. As many of our readers have expressed, Icon's success could hang in the balance.