This week kicks off the truly gigantic trade show known by its sponsoring organization’s abbreviation: NBAA, or in common lingo, “Enn, Bee, Double A.” While not taking up the extensive terra firms of Oshkosh, NBAA actually has more paying exhibitors. They even tow aircraft down city streets in the dark of night so a reported 100 aircraft can be on display at the Orlando Civic Center. The show has become so large that supposedly only two U.S. convention centers are big enough to contain the sprawling affair: Las Vegas and Orlando. The latter is just down the street for me so every other year I go and look for something to report amidst my wandering around astonished at the sheer size of the event and how much money gets spent for a three-day show. I always find something of interest to the light aviation, recreational flying community. This year, I’m on the lookout for Tecnam, one of this website’s longtime sponsors and surely the largest company serving up Light-Sport Aircraft around the world.
Tecnam Costruzioni Aeronautiche P2010
Phone: (01139) 817583210Casoria Na, -- 80026 - Italy
U.S. Distributor is Tecnam US Inc.
Phone: (863) 655-2400Sebring, FL 33870 - USA
After more than a decade of LSA, one airframe manufacturer stands head and shoulders above all other in what I call the “light aircraft space.” That term gets stretched far and wide with this update on Costruzioni Aeronautiche Tecnam … simply “Tecnam” to most folks. If Tecnam was a person, I’d call him restless and tireless. Does he sleep? I think not. Are any flying machines not possible for this design dynamo? I see no limits to his ambitions. So prolific is this Italian aviation powerhouse that I will blend several news items into one story. Tecnam is a large team, an entire factory full of hard-working people, and representatives of all sorts scattered across several countries. At the core of this engine of production (33 models and variations) is Luigi Pascale, the 92-year-old patriarch of Team Tecnam with management by nephew, Paolo Pascale. Paolo is the visible face of Tecnam at airshows, standing literally head and shoulders over most of his competitors.
Tecnam has become widely known for its extensive fleet of Light-Sport Aircraft designs (meeting ASTM standards) and for their popular twin-Rotax 912 Twin model (using traditional certification). At Sun ‘n Fun 2015, visitors can expect to lay eyes on the P2010 or as Tecnam usually calls it, “P Twenty Ten.” I have told you that ByDanJohnson.com expects to cover Light GA Aircraft — or LSA 4.0, as my journalist pal Marino Boric christened them — in addition to our on-going coverage of Light-Sport Aircraft, light kit-built aircraft, and ultralights including microlights and electric-powered aircraft. You can hardly miss the theme: “light” aircraft but the coverage is meant to be of affordable aircraft brands this website often covers — and is supported by — including all American and international producers of LSA. As you look at the photos in this article and compare them with the P2008 (bottom photo), you see the resemblance clearly.
Tecnam had a strong year last year with reasonable sales of Light-Sport Aircraft plus larger, certified airplanes into the U.S. market. Around the world, according to the report released by GAMA and confirmed personally by Managing Director Paolo Pascale, Tecnam shipped nearly 200 airplanes in 2014. While ByDanJohnson.com readers are focused on recreational aircraft primarily from LSA and light kit manufacturers, more of these companies are joining Tecnam by preparing to offer what my journalist friend Marino Boric has dubbed “LSA 4.0,” meaning four seat LSA-type aircraft. I am keenly aware that regulars to this website are focused on Light-Sport, light kit aircraft, ultralights — generally, aircraft flown primarily for fun. However, an entire new legacy is being written as producers of those aircraft types are charging ahead into LSA 4.0 aircraft. Since these new aircraft are from brand names well known to me, I intend to cover what I will call “Light GA” as well.
Something of a stealth invasion is beginning. I refer to an emerging flock of four seat Light-Sport Aircraft. Of course, most readers are aware that no such birds exist as LSA (in the FAA’s code, anyway). By U.S. regulation Light-Sport are two seat aircraft. Other nations have some different ideas. For now, suffice it to say the “LSA 4s” — as I choose to call them for this article — are on final. In the past I’ve written about Evektor’s Cobra, one of the first in this group, arriving so early that you probably would not call it a “LSA-like” airplane. The southern Czech company enjoyed success with their SportStar and Harmony, smaller siblings to a four seater they flew several years ago. After Evektor (coincidentally also the very first LSA to be approved), we began to hear about Flight Design’s C4 modeled on their LSA market-leading CT series.
Update 9/24/14 — Added to the models below, South Africa’s The Airplane Factory is also offering their four seat Sling 4. This model is flying but a decision about certifying it has not been made at this time. It is presently available as a kit-built airplane. Some of the more successful Light-Sport Aircraft producers have their eye on the market for larger aircraft, those able to seat four… or more. While continuing to manufacture their LSA models, three companies showed bigger aircraft or mockups at Aero 2011 and one other company has already done extensive test flying. Look out Cessna, Piper, Diamond, and Cirrus! Those familiar GA brands are about to get new competition. *** The first of this emerging segment was the Evektor Cobra, dating back more than four years. Previously marketed at shows like Oshkosh, Cobra was promoted with alternate powerplants of 200 and 315 horsepower. Joining Cobra in the roughly 2,500-pound gross weight category (approximately the weight of a Cessna 172) are three newcomers: Tecnam’s P2010, Flight Design’s C4, and Pipistrel’s Panthera (photos).