State-Of-The-Art Airplane Training For Less Than Legacy Airplane Training
By Bruce Brandon
Who the heck is Tecnam? This relatively unknown airplane manufacturer in the United States is an Italian company with its headquarters in Capua, Italy, a city north of Naples, and has its North American headquarters in Richmond, VA. It is the largest GA manufacture outside of the United States and is one of the few airplane manufactures, other than Boeing and Airbus that has a backlog of orders. Mr. Phil Solomon, CEO North America, says that Tecnam’s goal is to fill the need for less expensive state of the art aircraft needed to train pilots to fill the impending pilot shortage.
To accomplish this, it manufactures a line of aircraft from the Light Sport Echo Classic that list for $109,900 to the twin engine P2006T that list for $443,900 -- all of which have been certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). They are powered by Rotax engines that burn auto fuel. All but the P2006T are LSA. These prices are for aircraft delivered in Italy. The buyer ferries his/her airplane to the U.S. and pays all import fees. For $25,000 (this includes all fees) Tecnam will deliver the aircraft to any of the contiguous 48 states. One interesting airplane in the lineup is the P2002 Sierra that is the primary aerobatic trainer for the Spanish and Italian Air Forces.
The LSA airplanes that are certified outside the U.S. (approximately 50 counties have done so) are soon to have a 100lb. to 200 lb. gross weight increase. The U.S. LSA 1320 lb. limit will prevent U.S. airplanes from having their gross weight increased.
There are many LSA in the U.S. What makes the Tecnam line unique is the P2006T. This twin is one of, if not the least expensive twin engine airplanes being manufactured. It has two Rotax engines rated at 98 horsepower for takeoff and 92 horsepower max continuous. It cruises between 145-150 kts on only 11-12 gph. The basic model can be upgraded to the Garmin glass cockpit.
Being a trainer, gear, up landings are always a concern. The P2006T will save the hapless pilot money, if not embarrassment, if he/she should be so unfortunate as forget the gear. Because it is high wing there is no prop strike or sudden stoppage of the engine and the gear doors protect the gear assembly when up. Consequently the only repairs necessary are to sheet medal on the bottom of the fuselage. Simply jack the airplane up, lower the gear and taxi to the hangar for these repairs.
In addition to training, the P2006T is filling a need in coastal surveillance because of its low operating cost. It is outfitted with state of the art electronics and cameras and patrols 20 – 100 miles off shore.
Since 1986 Tecnam has built approximately 3800 airplanes. It has delivered 102 P2006T since 2009, however, there are only seven P2006T airplanes in the U.S. and 3 in Canada, all flown by flight schools. Tecnam is producing the P2006T at the rate of 1.1 airplanes per week and the LSA aircraft are being built at the rate of 1 per work day. An airplane isn’t built until there is a buyer for it and there are now backorders.
Tecnam offers free pilot training to purchasers of the P2006T. Additionally, if the purchaser’s mechanic needs training on how to maintain a P2006T, it is offering free factory training in Capua, Italy.