Cape Air temporarily grounds Tecnam props citing regulatory review of 'modifications'
Cape Air has temporarily grounded its fleet of Tecnam P2012 Travellers just six months after introducing the props on passenger flights.
The Hyannis, Massachusetts-based regional carrier voluntarily suspended Traveller flying to "allow time for the Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] and the European Aviation Safety Agency [EASA] to have a dialogue regarding recent modifications," Cape Air spokesperson Kelly Collopy told TPG. She did not provide additional details.
The modifications are to changes in the mechanical operation of the "elevator trim control system" and not related to any "technical or mechanical issue," according to an internal memo cited by PaxEx.Aero that first reported the grounding.
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The Traveller is the result of a joint development program between Cape Air and Italy's Tecnam. The twin-engine prop was specifically designed to replace the airline's aging fleet of Cessna 402s.
Cape Air CEO Dan Wolf described the Traveller as a "great airplane for us” in an interview with TPG in June. He did not mention any teething issues with the prop despite agreeing that they are common with all-new airplanes.
“Launching an airplane in an environment where demand is relatively low is actually a good way to do it," he said. "As we’re learning about the airplane, we can do it when we’re not carrying very many people.”
Cape Air had 11 Travellers in its fleet at the time with 20 due by year-end, according to Wolf. This compares to a fleet of more than 80 Cessnas.
Related: Onboard Cape Air’s all-new Tecnam Traveller to Nantucket
To date, it appears that Cape Air has been able to replace the Travellers with Cessna 402s on most scheduled flights, according to FlightAware data.
Cape Air introduced the nine-seat Traveller on passenger flights to Nantucket (ACK) in February. The plane is more efficient than the Cessnas and outfitted with numerous passenger comforts lacking on the older prop, including under-seat storage space, USB power outlets and air conditioning.
Prior to the suspension, Cape Air was flying the Traveller on routes in its Midwestern network from Chicago O'Hare (ORD), Nashville (BNA) and St. Louis (STL), Cirium schedules show. It was also flying the prop between Boston Logan (BOS) and Rutland, Vermont (RUT).
Cape Air did not provide a timeline for the end of the suspension. Tecnam was not immediately available to comment.
Related: How New England's Cape Air is navigating the coronavirus crisis