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On March 9, 2020, Italy went into lockdown. The nine-week freeze sought to get control of COVID-19, shuttering most of Italian life. All non-essential businesses, travel, free movement, schools and universities were suspended. In Capua, a short drive north of Naples, small general aviation manufacturer, Costruzioni Aeronautiche Tecnam, was watching the ground under its feet shift.

Just sixteen days prior, its clean sheet P2012 Traveller officially began flying revenue passengers for the first time with launch operator Cape Air — the culmination of more than a decade’s worth of development of Tecnam’s flagship nine-passenger aircraft.

Hunkered down, Tecnam began rethinking its strategy. “At the beginning of pandemic, we all started with a thought: In this period, the investments for a green world will be surely swamped by those related with public health or diverted to economic recovery,” said to Fabio Russo, Tecnam’s head of research and development, in an exclusive interview with The Air Current.

The result of this shift in thinking culminated on a Friday in late October, a day of the week typically reserved for sharing information one wouldn’t want widely seen. The company would launch a new development effort for an aircraft it is calling the P-VOLT, an all-electric version based on its newly-minted Traveller.

Related: Coronavirus shreds the engine maker business model

For the P-VOLT, Tecnam is swapping aircraft’s two 375 horsepower Lycoming TEO-540 piston engines in favor of new electric motors from Rolls-Royce and developing an all-electric systems architecture for everything from anti-icing and environmental control to avionics.

Tecnam’s entrance into all-electric aviation is the most significant advance for the industrialization of the technology to date, a development that represents a crucial first in the quest for genuinely green commercial air travel.

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Jon Ostrower is Editor-in-chief of The Air Current. Prior to launching TAC in June 2018, Ostrower served as Aviation Editor for CNN Worldwide, guiding the network's global coverage of the business and operations of flying. Ostrower joined CNN in 2016 following four and half years at the Wall Street Journal. Based first in Chicago and then in Washington, D.C. he covered Boeing, aviation safety and the business of global aerospace. Before that, Ostrower was editor of the award-winning FlightBlogger for Flightglobal and Flight International Magazine covering the development of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and other new aircraft programs from 2007 to 2012. Ostrower, a Boston native, graduated from The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs with a bachelor's degree in Political Communication. He is based in Seattle.

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