Tecnam’s New Piston Twin

While both Diamond and Tecnam have introduced light twins during the past decade, the market hasn’t seen a new large-displacement, piston cabin-class twin since the early 1970s. But demand for such a thing isn’t quite dead, apparently.

In 2012, Cape Air, a famed New England-based commuter airline with a fleet of aging Cessna 402s, approached Tecnam to spec a new 11-passenger short-haul aircraft.

As a result, the P2012 Traveler is well along in development and expected to fly as early as next year, for delivery in 2017. Tecnam’s Shannon Yeager says the all-metal aircraft is being readied for fuselage destructive testing and a conforming prototype will follow.

The aircraft will be the first commercial entry to use Lycoming’s new TEO-540, better known as the IE2 engine we’ve been reporting on for several years. The engine has advanced electronic controls, including a FADEC and single-lever operation. Yeager says Tecnam believes its direct fuel costs will be about 30 percent less than that for the 83 Continental-powered 402s Cape Air now operates. Unlike the 402s, which were also designed for the commuter role, the 2012 will have fixed gear.

While no official commitment on orders has been announced yet, Cape Air did pay Tecnam to develop the Traveler idea, so it’s fair to assume intent to buy exists and Cape Air may not be the only customer. No prices have been announced, but we’re told the Traveler will likely sell for under $1.5 million.

Cape Air has been a fixture in New England, successfully flying scheduled service from Boston and other cities to Cape Cod and the islands. It also operates in Montana, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois and in Micronesia and the Virgin Islands.