ST PETERSBURG, Fla. - Pilots are raising questions about the Icon A5 plane after retired MLB all star Roy Halladay’s death. The plane is now linked to three deaths and three separate crashes in the last six months, despite only 23 of the planes being released to the public. In two of the cases, investigators blamed the crash on pilot error.
One reason Tampa Bay pilots say the plane could be considered dangerous, is the surprisingly short amount of training needed to fly it. A sport plane license only requires 20 hours of training, half what is needed to fly a traditional private plane like a Cessna.
Jim Campbell, the CEO of Aero News Network hopes the crash prompts a lengthy investigation.
“So we can find out if these are true accidents or something more serious as a result,” he explained.
The plane is designed to fly at low altitudes, and some aviation experts say that can be dangerous for inexperienced pilots.
"It's kinda like sending a VW Jetta to run around the track of the Indy 500,” Campbell added.
David Thompson, a pilot of more than 60 years, says landing in water can have it’s own challenges.
“The glassy water acts like a mirror and without trees to indicate how high you are, there is no way to tell this and know where the surface of the water is. This is trickier for pilots who aren’t familiar with their aircraft or haven’t flown frequently,” Thompson said moments after landing his own plane at Albert Whitted Airport in St Pete.
The plane’s own designer was killed in a similar aircraft 6 months ago, testing the Icon A5. Investigators blamed pilot error in the crash, after the pilot crashed into a canyon, but Campbell still wonders.
“The thing to me that makes me concerned overall is if they are that prone to resorting to hype over reality, has that had an impact on their engineering and what they’re delivering to people?,” he said.
The company that makes the plane, Icon, released a statement saying they’re doing everything they can to support the Halladay accident investigation.
Strangely, several videos showing Halladay promoting the plane, including his wife’s hesitation about it, were deleted from the company’s Youtube channel after the crash.
Halladay was one of the first people to fly the Icon A5. The company has released just 23 planes to the public.