Tecnam, an Italian aeronautics company that produces aircraft parts for other manufacturers and also develops its own light aircraft, has engineered small aircraft with the aim of transporting the COVID-19 vaccine by air.
The COVID-19 vaccine must be stored and transported in very cold temperatures -70 ° C ± 10 ° C, according to Pfizer. Once thawed, the vaccine can be stored on 2-8 ° C for five days before rotting. Maintaining those cold temperatures has been one of the many challenges getting a vaccine out to the public, so Tecnam is working with Italian freezer manufacturer Desmon to find a solution to the problem.
Together, they have added a cooling system to Tecnam’s The 11-seat P2012 mini plane contains the special equipment needed for vaccine transport. The passenger seats have been removed to create a cargo version featuring the so-called ‘ultra-freezer.’ With it, Tecnam – named P2012 TravelCare – can carry up to 115,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine per trip.
And because of its size, TravelCare has a lot more flexibility when it comes to where it lands. Tecnam says it can take advantage of dirt, grass or gravel runways that are dangerous to larger aircraft, and can arrive much faster than a delivery van or truck. It also prevents a lot of vaccine transfers, which scientists have warned.
From Tecnam, here are some other specifications:
- Can maintain -86 ° C during transportation
- Can maintain -65 ° C for 10-12 hours after system is unplugged for further distribution
- Cand reduce distribution costs to just $ 0.005 per dose, per hour of flight
- Can land with runway less than 1,850 feet
- Can reduce delays in vaccine transport
Tecnam is no stranger to retrofitting its engines to handle a variety of tasks. So far, they have planes designed for medical evacuation, aerial surveillance and aerial photography. The addition of vaccine transport is another notch and an inspiration for other light craft makers to get on the same boat.