Tecnam Delivers First P2012s to Cape Air

The transatlantic flight capped off FAA certification on the twin.

Tecnam Cape Air P2012
Tecnam showed off one of the Cape Air P2012s at the static display at NBAA this week.Julie Boatman

Cape Air celebrated its 30th anniversary in a special way last week, with the arrival of its first Tecnam P2012. The regional airline signed on to be the launch customer in the United States for the multiengine airplane in a collaborative process that goes back several years.

Cape Air Senior Vice President, Fleet Planning & Acquisitions, Jim Goddard, described in a press conference at NBAA-BACE this week the journey the airline began as it recognized the limited lifespan of its mainstay Cessna 402 twins. "We entered a sustainability program for that aircraft while the search went on for a replacement," said Goddard. The airline sent out dozens of requests for proposals, and gave Tecnam the nod with an order of 100 airplanes back in 2015 (now 20 firm orders plus options on 90 that they plan to move up).

The teams had spent nearly two years creating a “dream aircraft,” for which Tecnam founder Professor Luigi Pascale was the primary designer. Luigi Pascale passed away last year; Tecnam Managing Director Giovanni Pascale performed the aircraft’s first test flight on July 21, 2016. With 11 total seats that could make a 9 plus 1 or 9 plus 2 crew configuration, and customized baggage access, the P2012 suits the standard Cape Air mission (with 9 passengers) perfectly. The new FADEC-actuated Lycoming TEO540C1A engines are critical to the success of the design, greatly simplifying power management, as they automatically adjust the fuel/air mixture and timing on a continuous basis—and the ability to utilize alternative fuels. The Garmin G1000 NXi stocks the panel with one 14-inch and two 10-inch displays.

Goddard noted the $391 to $405 per hour operating cost sealed the deal for the airline, with the airplane’s ability to complete a 500 nm trip at 155 knots at 10,000 feet, burning 110 gallons with a 3:32 estimated time enroute. Tecnam plans a production rate of 25 in 2020 and 35 in 2021.

The first two P2012s came to Cape Air via a transatlantic flight ending on October 12, with one piloted by Giovanni Pascale and Elio Ruilo, and the second crewed by Vito Preti and Antonio Covino. The second two aircraft will arrive in early 2020. Cape Air crews are currently undergoing training on the new model, with entry into service planned for December.