• Tecnam's latest P2008 in flight. (John Absolon)
    Tecnam's latest P2008 in flight. (John Absolon)
  • G3X avionics in the P2008. (John Absolon)
    G3X avionics in the P2008. (John Absolon)
  • Tecnam P2008 on the ground. (John Absolon)
    Tecnam P2008 on the ground. (John Absolon)

An upgraded version of Tecnam's P2008 arrived in Australia in August 2018, and John Absolon wasted no time getting himself a ride in the latest classic to come out of Capua.

The Tecnam P2008 was last reviewed in Australian Flying May-June 2011 and was then a relatively new type to Australia and a fairly new aircraft in the then new LSA category. It was quite a luxuriously appointed model compared to some of the offerings from existing manufacturers like Cessna’s C162 [Australian Flying July-August 2011].

The latest P2008 model has many refinements that will appeal to the pilot moving on from a older less fuel-efficient GA aircraft that carries around extra seats that are seldom if ever used by some owners.

The Tecnam P2008 is a two-seat aircraft that is suitable for either the training role or for the pilot who just wants to be able to travel in comfort and efficiency in his own aircraft with just one other passenger.

The test aircraft was fitted with the latest Garmin G3X Touch Screen twin-screen EFIS system along with other cruising niceties like an autopilot (GMC 305).

Powered by the venerable 100-hp Rotax 912 ULS2 series engine coupled to a Sensenich two-bladed propeller, the P2008 performs extremely well sipping fuel at the rate of approximately 20 lph at a cruise of 110 KIAS.

First sight

Walking around the new P2008, you notice that the quality of the finish and paint work is first class, with stylish stripes adorning the sides of the fuselage. Various other colour scheme options are available of course.

The aircraft sits on a tricycle undercarriage with a castoring nose wheel and aluminum main gear leaf-spring struts. These replace the original model’s steel springs giving the aircraft a wider wheel track than before along with a significant weight saving of around 15 kg.

The main wheels are fitted with readily-available Matco disc brakes. All wheels were fitted with streamlined spats.
The fuselage is made from carbon fibre composite while the wings, tail fin and horizontal tail plane are of conventional metal construction.

Another design advantage of using carbon fibre in the construction of the fuselage, is that it enables an increase in internal space for the external dimensions because less internal structure is needed. This enables the P2008 to have a very roomy cabin for an aircraft in this category.

Another noticeable change is on the top of the fuselage near the wing trailing edge, where provision is made for the latest option, the ballistic rescue parachute. There are frangible seams covering a panel where the chute would deploy through along with two strips for the riser lines to the wing spar area.

The test aircraft was not fitted with this system, but the provision is there in all production aircraft should an owner later decide to fit one. The parachute does, however, add an extra 15 kg to an aircraft that is currently in a category limited to MTOW of 600 kilograms.

Another noticeable feature of this particular aircraft, was the large diameter LED landing light fitted to the lower centre of the engine cowling just below the Rotax’s radiator. This had previously been fitted to the left wing leading edge on previous models.

Get on board

Entry into the cockpit is made relatively easy thanks to wide forward-hinging doors positioned in front of the wing strut, which is mounted to the lower fuselage behind the door. These doors are now fitted with an internal retaining mechanism to prevent the door from flying forward on the ground by limiting their forward movement.

The only caution here is for the left-hand seat occupant to be careful to avoid the pitot probe which protrudes from the left wing strut leading edge.

The control stick is an arched design raking forward then back to close to the front of the seat. This arch is there to allow you to get your leg past it when entering. The seat is well upholstered and is fully adjustable fore and aft to get the best position.

Looking at the instrument panel, you are immediately struck by the clean uncluttered layout, with twin 270 mm (10.6”) Garmin G3X displays dominating the panel.

The side-by-side mounting of these screens enables the left-seat pilot to easily touch selections without any reaching across the panel to the other side.

This mounting also enables for the incorporation of a small stowage in the panel to hold items like glasses or a phone. I might’ve liked to see it a bit bigger so as to maybe accommodate an iPad or similar tablet; many pilots are using at least one of the various Electronic Flight Bag apps available these days.

Fresh glass

This G3X system can be configured with optional WiFi, enabling the user to plan a flight on the appropriate app at home and then upload it into the G3X at the airport avoiding wasting time loading it manually. Just one button press and it’s loaded.

Directly below the EFIS screens, and larger enough so you can’t miss it, is the red coloured fuel selector knob.
To the right of the fuel selector is the electric flap switch, which previously had been located on the lower panel in front of the pilot. Flap selections are made by holding the switch in the desired directional until the flaps the indicated position on the G3X screen.

The large cluster of engine instruments to the right in the previous model, has been removed and incorporated into the Garmin’s display system.

Touching any of the engine indicators on the compacted centre EFIS map display brought up an entire screen devoted to the various engine parameters.

The obligatory array of circuit breakers are located on the far right of the main panel, with system switches like fuel pump, master switch and lights being located on the far left and lower main instrument panels.

The GMC 305 autopilot controller sits below the left hand G3X screen on the lower instrument panel.

The whole layout is clean and uncluttered and up with the times of modern instrument systems to help lower the pilot’s workload.

Behind both front seats is located a large luggage stowage area. This compartment is limited to 20 kg, but I suspect it could be easily overloaded, as the area is so large at 225 l (8 cubic feet).

Flying it

Starting the Rotax is straightforward and once all temperatures and pressures were approaching the green band, we taxied out.

Nothing has changed with the handling with the latest P2008 with steering being achieved through differential braking with a dab of braking on one side, a bit of power added and the P2008 will turn where you want it to go. A dab in the opposite direction stops the turn.

After the obligatory pre-take-off checks, we took to the runway. Acceleration is instant when pushing the throttle up to maximum power. A slight raising of the nosewheel at 40-45 knots, and then letting the aircraft fly off the ground, achieved a quite short take-off roll with the light headwind present.

Initial climb out is flown at 60-65 knots until flap retraction from the half (take-off) position and then a transition into a 80-85 knot climb gives the best rate of climb.

Stark pointed out that with the P2008’s laminar flow wing, there is no point in climbing at a slower speed, as there isn’t the efficient airflow over the wing.

Climbing at 80 knots produced an average rate of climb of 800 fpm which isn’t bad considering we were close to ISA+10, half fuel and two adults aboard.

The visibility over the nose and generally all-round is excellent with the lower nose cowling and large side windows.
Once trimmed out for the climb speed, it was possible to hold the wings level with just the touch of thumb and forefinger pressure to the stick. The elevator trim is unchanged and is operated through two flush-mounted buttons on the top of each stick.

A change-over trim switch for left or right is located at the top of the left instrument panel. This is a handy feature because if one set of buttons were to get stuck causing a trim run-away, selecting it off and across to the other stick would isolate that faulty switch.

Once in the cruise and throttling back to around 5200 rpm (approximately 2380 prop rpm), the speed stabilized at 110 KIAS. At this speed we could expect to be using close to 20 lph.

Throwing it around

General turn reversals from 40° to 40° were achieved in a very good 3-4 seconds, with light aileron forces and minimal rudder balancing required. The rudder is very responsive and a little more solid in feel to the stick forces, which I find to be admirable to avoid over-controlling and associated discomfort in yaw if over-used.

Setting the P2008 up for a clean stall produced a stall speed of close to 50 KIAS which was reduced to 47 KIAS with the selection of TO (1/2) flap. With full flap, this speed reduced significantly to close to 40 knots and the most noticeable thing being very little buffet, but just a sinking feeling with the stick near full back. There was still full aileron effectiveness at the stall.

There was a very slight tendency for a right wing drop, which was quickly picked up with minimal opposite rudder pressure during the recovery.

Returning to the circuit area, I found again the large windows made it easy to acquire the traffic in the circuit.
The handling in the circuit area was straightforward and unchanged from the previous model with the final approach being flown at 60-65 knots.

The annoying thing during the approach were the continual "Caution Terrain" voice alerts coming from the G3X. The background and the potential alert areas were shown on both the background of the Primary Flight Display and the map including when on finals.

All up

Pricing on the P2008 is also very competitive with the base starting at a little over €125,000 with a basic six-pack instruments. Adding the two screen G3X option adds an additional €16,000.

There are many options available to customize your choice including right up to the Rotax 914 Turbo (115hp) with an electric adjustable propeller for € 21,400.

In all with the P2008’s ability to operate at low cost as a result of low fuel usage and associated costs and a 2000 hour TBO with the certified Rotax power plant, the P2008 is a stylish, modern and efficient trainer or personal aircraft as evidenced by its acceptance by nearly 159 operators around the world.

My thanks to Bruce Stark of Tecnam Australia for providing this great little aircraft for Australian Flying to review.

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