Tuesday, October 20, 2009
New Light Twin From Italy
Tecnam introduces a twin-Rotax-powered four-seater in the tradition of the Partenavia P68C
The P2006T is targeted at the multi-engine training market, and with a relatively economical price tag, it has few head-to-head competitors.
Similarly, the frontal area of the Rotax engine is only about 1.5 square feet, three square feet total for two, compared to 6.9 square feet for the Lycoming. In other words, the drag profile of the twin Rotax engines was actually more efficient than with a single Lycoming IO-360. Another factor in favor of the Rotax was that the 912 is approved for autogas.
The Rotax uses a 2.43 reduction gearing to downgrade the engine’s 5,800 rpm to 2,400 prop rpm. Technically, the 912S engines are rated for 98 hp apiece on takeoff and 92 hp maximum except takeoff (METO) power. The 912S also is liquid-cooled, so it’s less susceptible to the ills of shock cooling.
A mere total 200 hp might seem a little weak for a twin, but the Tecnam’s gross weight is only 2,600 pounds. At 13 pounds/hp, power loading is less than the Piper Arrow’s; it uses the same total horsepower to fly with 2,700 pounds, and the old Mooney 201 employed similar power to levitate 2,740 pounds.
The surprise comes in that the P2006T offers a low 47-knot stall speed, this from a mere 159 square feet of wing—again, significantly smaller than the wings on either the Arrow or 201.
Pascale designed the P2006T to be constructed almost entirely of metal. The sculpted winglets atop each wingtip are molded fiberglass, but the rest of the airplane is mostly pure aluminum. Wings feature single-spar design with long-span ailerons and, as mentioned above, the big flaps reduce stall to a leisurely 47 knots.
There are two doors for cabin access, a conventional left side crew door for copilot and pilot, plus an aft right side door for passengers. Entry to the front office is a simple matter of stepping in and settling into the seat. No climbing, no insinuating your body around a strut or floor-mounted control column.
The cockpit layout is fairly conventional, and of course, the demonstrator I flew had all the options, including the Garmin G1000 glass panel. There’s an analog version of the P2006T that uses a Garmin GNS 530 and a stack of secondary NAV/COM, transponder and autopilot.
I flew the airplane with two passengers, student pilot Peggy Herrera in the right rear and Tommy Grimes, CEO of Heart of Virginia Aviation, in the copilot seat. Grimes was planning to refuel and depart for Richmond, Va., when we finished our air-to-air photos and flight evaluation, so he was eager that I not break anything. Heart of Virginia Aviation (www.flyhova.com) is one of five Tecnam dealers in the United States, and the first to receive a P2006T.
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