US regulators have certificated the 11-seat Tecnam P2012 Traveller, bringing first delivery to Massachusetts-based launch customer Cape Air a step closer.
Italian airframer Tecnam announced the milestone on 16 August, although the Federal Aviation Administration tells FlightGlobal it granted the approval more than a month ago, on 11 July.
Cape Air will replace decades-old Cessna 402Cs with clean-sheet Tecnam P2012 Travellers
Regional operator Cape Air intends to acquire eight of the clean-sheet aircraft this year and 12 in 2020. It also holds options to purchase a further 92 P2012s over 10 years.
Cape Air is still awaiting FAA airworthiness certifications, which certify that specific aircraft conform to the type certificate, says the airline.
The regional carrier flies a web of short-haul routes throughout eastern New England using a fleet of ageing Cessna 402Cs, which the twin Lycoming TEO-540-C1A-powered P2012s will replace. The Hyannis, Massachusetts-based airline also operates several smaller networks from a handful of other US and Caribbean destinations.
Many of Cape Air's roughly 80 402Cs were manufactured in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Tecnam says the FAA's certification puts it "on track" to begin deliveries to Cape Air in the "coming weeks", but the airframer has not provided a more precise timeline.
P2012s have 11 seats, can cruise at speeds of up to 194kt (359km/h) and have a range of more than 950nm (1,760km).
Cape Air operates under FAA rules allowing single-pilot flights with small aircraft limited to nine passengers.
Story updated on 16 August to note that Cape Air awaits airworthiness certificates for its aircraft.