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Posted: March 31, 2011 9:22 p.m.

ICON Aircraft could locate plant in Covington

The light sport aircraft maker considering Covington for a manufacturing plant has been identified as ICON Aircraft, a Los-Angeles based start-up company founded by a former pilot and engineer.

ICON Chief Financial Officer David Crook said Thursday that the company is looking at Covington among other sites in metro Atlanta and around the county.

"(Atlanta) is a major metro area (with) relatively good weather (and) easy access to other areas of the country," Crook said in an email.

The company is planning to build at minimum a 100,000-square-foot facility to produce its two-person, A5 sport aircraft, which sells for $139,000 through the company’s website. The plant would employ 80 at first, and up to 600 in the next five years, according to local officials.

The aircraft is designed to make recreational aviation more affordable and to appeal to both existing pilots and new pilots. The idea is to build off the "existing powersports markets and enormous latent interest in aviation," according to the company’s website, iconaircraft.com.

Consumers who only want to fly recreationally during the day can get a Sport Pilot License, which requires less training than a traditional Private Pilot License. Crook said sport pilot training can be completed in as little as two weeks.

The plane is designed to be intuitive to operate, has a larger front window to offer wide views and can land or take off from both land and water.

Crook said ICON wants to choose a site for a new plant by this summer.

The company would need 20 acres for a plant and is looking at two locations around Covington Municipal Airport, including land next to the airport and Nisshinbo, the brake manufacturer, and land off Williams Road, City Manager Steve Horton said previously.

The company has two locations in Los Angeles but is looking to expand manufacturing as it hopes to produce tens of thousands of new aircraft per year in the next 10 years, according to the website.

If ICON chose a local site, Covington could make $550,000 to $700,000 off the sale of land.

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