Development of Tecnam’s P2012 Traveller took a major step forward on 21 July when the piston-twin took to the skies above Capua, near Naples, for the first time.
The 11-seat Traveller – the largest model in the Italian airframer’s 22-strong line-up of light piston-engined aircraft – is being prepared for certification and service entry in late 2018 and early 2019 respectively.
“The aircraft responded exactly as expected,” says Tecnam’s experimental test pilot Lorenzo De Stefano, who “made couple of circuits” around the airfield “to check the basic behaviour of the aircraft, engine and flight controls”.
Paolo Pascale, Tecnam’s chief executive, describes the P2012’s first fight as “the beginning of a new era” for the family-owned firm. Tracing its roots back to 1948, Tecnam has largely focused on two- to four-seat piston-engined designs, aimed at the owner-flyer, training and special-missions markets. The P2012 marks its first foray into the commercial aviation sector.
The aircraft's arrival, Tecnam says, “has been anticipated by many airlines, from the USA to Africa, Asia and Australia, who have been demanding a replacement for the many hundreds of heritage aeroplanes in the [US and European] FAR23/CS23 category currently in service around the world”.
The launch customer of the high-wing aircraft is the US regional carrier and P2012 co-developer Cape Air. The Hyannisport, Massachusetts-based operator has signed a letter of intent for 100 aircraft to replace its fleet of 80 Cessna 402Cs and four Britten Norman BN-2 Islanders.
Tecnam says: “The P2012 will first see service as a passenger aeroplane with Cape Air, but has been designed from the start to be a versatile and flexible aerial platform, offering many multirole opportunities including VIP, cargo shipping, parachuting and medevac services.”
The aircraft – funded through a combination of private and Italian government investment – has a fixed landing gear, large panoramic windows and four doors, including a sliding passenger door and a cargo door.
Fuelled by Avgas and Mogas, the P2012 is projected to have a maximum take-off weight of 3,450kg (7,610lb), a payload of 900kg, and a range of more than 700nm (1,300km).