About a month ago I started my EASA Commercial Pilot training. I flew about 4 hours and went back home, and now I am going to finish it.
Our school has some cessnas 152 and one TECNAM P2008JC. Usually all C152 are all booked well in advance, but Tecnam is less popular, so I booked it for almost a week.
This aircraft is really great. I has more modern avionics, it flies much better, and the endurance is more than 6 hours (compared to about 4 hours for Cessna 152). And it is still a high-wing.
I believe that it is less popular than Cessnas because the majority of students are doing their PPL, and our school uses C152 for exams. For PPL switching aircrafts leads to more hours to complete the program, and it becomes more expensive. You should get used to a slightly different glide slope and flare attitude, and learn the instruments.
Commercial pilot program is a complete different story though. It takes less time to get used to a new aircraft, and the exam will be in a Cessna 172RG anyway.
I like it more than a Cessna 150/152 even though I made my first flight in Cessna 150. But this tecnam looks like a step forward. First of all, it has a glass cockpit (not a G1000, but still). It does not have IFR-certified GPS and autopilot, but its PFD has altimeter and speed bands, and different display modes. At first you feel like in a boeing.
Tecnam also glides better than a C150/152 – the engine-out distance can be much larger. But it is not that forgiving though, especially on landing, better to act much more precise. Probably that’s one of the reasons that it is not extensively used as a primary trainer.
In the air the airplane flies like a charm. Probably that’s because the weight is slightly less too. The fuel gauges work much better too: in a Cessna I used to not rely on them at all.
There are some drawbacks though. Tecnam acts much less predictable in a stall – at first you think that it wants to spin right away when you try to perform some stall exercises. It requires much more precise piloting on landing. It has a stick instead of yoke. Its cruise speed is 80-90 knots – about 10 knots less than Cessna. It has a fuel pump (like low-wing pipers), and you should switch tanks in flight (again like in pipers). It’s more difficult to get into the cockpit 🙂
In overall I like it more than a Cessna 150/152, and it is definitely a valuable experience. I am not sure that I’d like to use it for my PPL back in 2017, but at the CPL level it definitely worths it.