Tecnam offers bare-bones model for budget fliers

November 7, 2012

Tecnam
The Tecnam P92 Echo Classic Light offers no frills, and a price competitive with used LSAs. Photo courtesy Tecnam North America.

Tecnam aims to woo budget-conscious buyers who might otherwise buy used with the new P92 Echo Classic Light.

The new model is designed for day VFR operations, and shares the same basic airframe as other models in the P92 series, with shorter wings, fabric-covered control surfaces, lighter seats, and minimum equipment. Lights are among the optional extras, though Tecnam North America CEO Phil Solomon expects most buyers will opt to keep it simple. Maximum takeoff weight for the Echo Classic Light is 1,102 pounds, compared to the LSA limit of 1,320 pounds (1,430 pounds for amphibians) found in other models.

The base price, $74,999 delivered in Virginia, is $34,901 lower than a comparably equipped (day VFR) P92 Echo Classic. In inflation-adjusted dollars, the new offering marks the long-awaited arrival of the $60,000 light sport aircraft that had been predicted, or at least wished for, when the category was developed nearly a decade ago.

The target market for the Echo Classic Light includes flying clubs and individual buyers who might otherwise prefer a used LSA based on price. With metal construction (excluding the control surfaces) and a two-year/200-hour factory warranty, Solomon expects this new version of the P92 will compete with used LSAs that are five or more years old. Able to run on 87 octane motor fuel, the 80-horsepower Rotax engine will sip gasoline and help keep operating costs low—in the range of $30 an hour, given typical financing costs, Solomon figures.

“This is a plane which we should try and get into every airport around the country, at least one of them,” Solomon said, noting AOPA’s recent launch of an effort to build and promote flying clubs as a cost-effective way to expand access to general aviation. “I think every flying club would benefit from having this in their portfolio.”

For pilots seeking glass panel functionality without paying a significant penalty on price, Tecnam can install the antenna, power supply, and mounting kit that allows operators to use the iPad application and equipment offered by Levil Technologies Corp., which offers a range of devices that turn a cockpit-mounted iPad into an attitude and heading reference system (AHRS) primary flight display.

“For a few thousand dollars, you can have a fully functioning PFD,” Solomon said.

While there are a number of optional features, the Echo Classic Light is designed with bare-bones flying in mind. The useful load with standard equipment is 496 pounds, and 425 pounds with full fuel—a single 11.9-gallon tank. A second tank of the same size is available as an option, though long cross-country flights are probably not a typical mission. “It’s got no pretentions,” Solomon said.

Solomon said the stripped-down design makes for fast factory builds, and orders can typically be filled within three months, including the time needed to ship the aircraft from Italy to Hanover County Airport in Ashland, Va., where Tecnam has its North America base, and where buyers can take delivery.

The Echo Classic Light is built for cost-saving, not comfort, though buyers can opt to increase the empty weight a little with a metal-frame seat with thicker cushions, rather than the composite seat that comes standard.

Tecnam provided a specification sheet that details aircraft equipment, options, and performance.

Jim Moore

Jim Moore | Online Associate Editor, AOPA

AOPA Online Associate Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.