While most know the Italian aircraft manufacturer Tecnam for their range of single-engine LSAs and other conventional aircraft, the company just introduced a new version of the P2012 Traveler piston twin, designated the P2012 STOL. And for those who have been around the aviation block for a bit, you know that the STOL designation is the acronym for Short Take Off & Landing.
According to the manufacturer, what that means for this aircraft is it is targeting passenger and cargo operators who need the ability to utilize unimproved airstrips as short as 1,000 feet. With flight tests completed earlier this year and the validation process planned for next year, Tecnam hopes to deliver these aircraft as soon as the regulatory processes have been fully vetted and completed.
The STOL version of the P2012, going by the designation at least, is not a new plane but an update to the capable twin Tecnam introduced in 2012. As far as what makes it a “STOL” aircraft, details from Tecnam are sparse, but perusing the specs, the one that stands out is the engine swap, from 375 hp Lycoming powerplants to geared 375 hp engines from Continental paired with three-blade MT props; the standard P-2012 used four-blade MT props. No word from Tecnam about improvements to the gear or airframe for short-field work.
Up until the recent introduction of this aircraft, commercial short-haul operators had to rely on an aging fleet of STOL aircraft with designs and, in many cases, avionics that dates back decades. This includes the tried and true de Havilland Twin Otter, as well as the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan. Tecnam believes that their well-equipped comfortable interior (think windows for each passenger, air-conditioning, fresh and hot air vents, LED reading lights, cupholders and USB ports all around), along with pilot-centric glass panel and state-of-the-art avionics will set the P2012 STOL apart from the aging competition. Additionally, with flexible configurations for up to nine passengers (plus pilot), the aircraft can carry those passengers or a combination of passengers and cargo to those underserved, unimproved markets with relative ease.
Published landing distances are listed in the 1,000-foot range, with a useful load of just over 2,800 pounds and a maximum takeoff weight of just over 8,100 pounds. If those specs hold true, it is quite possible that the P2012 STOL could open niche opportunities for many underserved markets. That could ultimately translate to a profitable use of this new STOL aircraft for those operators who make the estimated $2.6 million investment.
With success of their existing offerings well established, industry observers will be keeping their eyes on Tecnam and the P2012 STOL as it moves thru the certification validation phases, ultimately landing at those operators looking for an aircraft to set them apart and opening new markets and new revenue streams.
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