Tecnam took the wraps off its 11-seat commuter aircraft at the Aero Friedrichshafen general aviation show in Germany - one of a trio of new aircraft unveiled by the Italian airframer - taking its aircraft stable to 20.
Development of the high-wing piston twin - dubbed the P2012 Traveller - is a departure for Tecnam, whose line-up comprises mainly light single-engined designs. The Capua-based company has partnered US commuter airline Cape Air to help bring the product to market.
"We are the largest commuter airline in the US with a fleet of 67 Cessna 402s and Piper Navajos, as well as two ATR 42s," says Andrew Bonney, Cape Air's vice-president of planning.
"Given our ageing fleet, we feel there is an urgent requirement for a new nine-passenger commuter aircraft in this market - no [FAR Part 23 aircraft] has been produced for this sector for about 25 years."
Hyannis, Massachusetts-based Cape Air issued a request for information to all the major airframers "and Tecnam produced the best and most comprehensive response", says Bonney.
The two companies have collaborated on the aircraft's design, with Cape Air playing an advisory role. "Through our extensive knowledge of the commuter airline market, we have been able to offer technical and marketing advice to Tecnam which will help to boost the Traveller's appeal to a wide audience," says Bonney.
The turbocharged, avgas- and mogas-fuelled Lycoming TEO-540-powered aircraft is priced between €1.5 million ($2.17 million) and €1.8 million. It has a fixed gear, "allowing it to operate from unpaved runways", says Bonney, large panoramic windows and four doors, including a sliding passenger door.
The Traveller is designed to provide a maximum cruise speed of 215kt (400km/h) at 10,000ft (3,000m) and a long-range cruise speed of 170kt.
The Traveller programme is funded jointly by private capital and the Italian government.
Tecnam is targeting a total market of 1,500 aircraft as replacements for 402s and Navajos, of which it expects to secure about one-third. Tecnam managing director Paolo Pascale says: "We are also planning a VIP, cargo, parachute and medevac version of the aircraft, but the commuter variant will come first with entry into service planned for four years time."
Tecnam has also unveiled the PTwenty-ten, a four-seat, IO-360MIA piston single with a carbonfibre fuselage and a metal wing which, Pascale says, is designed to fill a gap in Tecnam's predominantly two-seat, single-engine line-up. The €182,250 aircraft is targeted at the training and owner-flyer markets. Certification and service entry are scheduled for November 2012.
Tecnam's third new model is a fifth-generation P92 Eaglet G3 light sport aircraft, which offers a wider cabin and a more powerful 115hp (86kW) IO-233 B2A engine. Service entry for the €68,794 aircraft is expected in September.