Niche US regional carrier Cape Air has reached an agreement with Italian aircraft maker Tecnam to begin taking delivery of 20 Tecnam P2012 Travellers in January 2019, the companies announce on 21 September.

The 20 aircraft are among 100 P2012s that Cape Air intends to acquire, the companies say. The airline will use the type to replace a large and aging fleet of nine-seat Cessna 402s, executives have said.

Cape Air, based on Cape Cod, has been in discussions with Tecnam for many months, according to media reports, but the airline had not until now disclosed firm details about a deal.

The P2012 first flew in July 2016, and the prototype has accumulated more than 250h of flight, says Tecnam.

The company expects that the Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency will certify the P2012 in 2018.

"Cape Air has been a key partner in the development of the Traveller, along with Lycoming engines and Garmin avionics," says a joint Cape Air-Tecnam media release.

Tecnam chief executive Paolo Pascale calls the P2012 "a beautiful aircraft" that "enables operators to offer better and modern service along with reduced operating and maintenance costs".

"We are now able to offer our passengers a modern and stylish twin-engine aircraft ideal for small community air service in the US and abroad," says Cape Air CEO Dan Wolf.

Twin 375hp, six-cylinder Lycoming TEO-540-C1A piston engines power the high-wing P2012. The aircraft cruises at 190kt (352km/h) at 10,000ft altitude, has fuel capacity of 800 litres (211USg) and range of "more than 950nm" (1,759km), according to Tecnam's website.

The P2012 will have Garmin G1000 NXi avionics, Tecnam says.

Cessna 402s compose the bulk of Cape Air's fleet – the airline operates 83 of the type, according to its website. It also operates four Britten-Norman BN-2 Islanders and two ATR 42s, according to its website.

The carrier's network largely includes routes from Boston to the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, and to destinations on Cape Cod and in New Hampshire, Maine and New York State.

Cape Air also operates a Caribbean network out of San Juan, and flies routes out of Billings in Montana and St Louis. The company deploys its ATRs on several routes from Guam.

Source: Cirium Dashboard