How P2012 TRAVELCARE Empowers Efficient & Equitable COVID Vaccine Delivery Worldwide


If the COVID pandemic has taught us anything, it is that solidarity is innate to us.

How many landlords have postponed rents to help tenants recover from job losses; patrons have left hefty tips to keep the local joints afloat; factories repurposed their production lines to resupply hospitals with essential gear.

The stories of thoughtfulness and solidarity echoed throughout the world in 2020.

At Tecnam, we joined the fight to preserve the health and wellbeing of our community as soon as the news of the pandemic hit.

We have worked hard to keep our staff as well as their jobs safe and we have responded to the community’s needs quickly by developing the EN166 face shield to fight the virus diffusion.

Now, we have joined forces with our neighboring manufacturer of ultra-freezers, DESMON, to contribute to the final fight for a COVID-free world.

“In the past months we all wished for a vaccine against COVID-19, and Pfizer/BioNTech1 made it possible. But, it would not be a turning point for the world pandemic without the precise, efficient, and affordable, capillary distribution chain that we are now able to provide.”

  • Giovanni Pascale Langer, Managing Director at Tecnam

Our new P2012 TRAVELCARE aircraft platform is developed to empower COVID vaccine distributors worldwide to deliver timely help to all.

Here is how this platform is game-changing:

A specialist retrieving COVID vaccines from a freezer
Without proper transportation, COVID vaccine distribution is costly and nearly impossible in some remote areas

The Real Extent of the COVID Vaccine Distribution Problem

In the final stages of the COVID vaccine development, the challenges surrounding vaccine refrigeration came to light.

According to Pfizer’s factsheet, to preserve their integrity, the vaccines must be transported in extreme temperature conditions of -70°C±10°C.

Once thawed, the vaccines cannot be refrozen and must be stored under temperature conditions of 2-8°C for up to five days.

This not only requires specialized refrigeration solutions but a whole infrastructure of specialized transportation units and storage systems so none of these life-saving vials would go to waste.

Fortunately, Pfizer as well as distributors worldwide were quick to engineer transportation methods that would allow them to move and store the vaccines.

However, the challenges in COVID vaccine distribution do not end with refrigeration.

Very few outlets have discussed the issues of the transportation cost and, more importantly, the reach of the current transportation systems.

If unaddressed, this problem can lead to delivery delays in remote communities worldwide – a problem that would allow this pandemic to claim more lives before the solution can reach them.

Let’s look at this more closely:

COVID Vaccine Distributors’ Reach

Given the time-sensitivity of the mission, distributors must move large quantities of vaccine doses per trip quickly and efficiently.

The large aircraft may be the optimal solution; however, their reach is limited.

For instance, only 33% of European airports can accommodate big freighter jets.

Pie chart showing that over 67% of European airports don’t have runways long enough for large aircaft

With the large aircraft delivering the vaccines to the major hubs, the further distribution depends on the networks of trucking companies.

Here, we must think of the road conditions and the communities that inhabit hardly accessible regions including those with underdeveloped transport infrastructure.

Delivering this life-saving solution to them can rely on multiple handovers, which is what the logistics experts warn against.

In an interview for NPR, Director of Northwestern University’s Transportation Center Mr. Hani Mahmassani said:

“[Vaccine transportation] requires speed in moving but it also requires a sort of minimizing the number of hand-offs because it has a limited shelf-life. Once it leaves the deep freezers of Pfizer, it has a limited time before it needs to be in somebody’s arm.”

And so we arrive at the main motivation behind the P2012 TRAVELCARE project.

“The COVID pandemic is a global issue. Even with the solution for travelling to our doors, we mustn’t forget others.

At Tecnam, we’ve worked hard to ensure that help reaches everyone. We are here to empower distributors to deliver the vaccines efficiently and equitably to all communities worldwide.”

  • Giovanni Pascale Langer

COVID Vaccine Transportation Cost

Public records do not have insight into the exact transportation costs, but rough estimates show that these can go as high as EUR 11 (USD 13.5) per vaccine in certain areas – a testament to the complexity of this supply chain.

On the other hand, P2012 TRAVELCARE is one of the most cost-efficient transportation solutions available. Averaging less than EUR 0,004 (USD 0.005) per vial, per flight hour.

Image of a Northern town as an example of remote areas only P2012 TRAVELCARE platform can access efficiently
Due to COVID transportation challenges, remote communities worldwide may face delays in receiving help

What Does the COVID Vaccine Transportation Challenge Mean for the Communities in Hardly Accessible Areas?

The main pain points of the current logistics network may lead to an inequitable delivery of help.

The transport accessibility challenges could lead to delivery delays in certain areas.

For the remote communities in the developed countries, this could mean days; For the communities in developing countries, this could mean weeks.

As we write this, the total number of lives the COVID pandemic has claimed worldwide has surpassed 1.8 million.

When it comes to delivering help, time is of the essence.

“The pharma houses have performed miracles producing viable vaccines in record time. They have pulled their weight for humanity. We cannot fail now. We have to work just as hard to deliver the vaccines just as efficiently.”

  • Fabio Russo, R&D at Tecnam

How P2012 TRAVELCARE Empowers Distributors to Deliver Timely Help to Everyone

“When a crisis hits, you have two choices: wait for a solution or develop one. We choose the second one any day.”

  • Giovanni Pascale Langer

P2012 TRAVELCARE Origins Story

In anticipation of the vaccine, in mid-2020 we started developing the solutions that could aid in the second stage of the mission to eradicate COVID: the vaccine distribution.

Thanks to its large cargo capacity and versatility, we build upon our staple P2012 traveller aircraft, developing what was named the P2012 Sentinel SMP program – the last-generation platform capable of carrying special mission systems for any need:

  • medical evacuation
  • aerial surveillance
  • aerial photography

The platform was complete by the time rumors of Pfizer-BionTech’s vaccines broke in September 2020.

Soon, the refrigeration requirements were announced and we went back to the drawing board to devise a solution for the newly arisen challenge.

It was early December when we heard of a world-leading ultra-freezer manufacturer DESMON who just happened to be our neighbor, headquartered only 100km (62 miles) away.

Not only was DESMON happy to join forces, but we both had the solutions ready. The only step left was to merge them in compliance with all the relevant regulations.

Our teams worked tirelessly and, in less than a month, managed to produce one the most advanced COVID vaccine transportation platforms yet.

And so P2012 TRAVELCARE came to be.

loading DESMON ultra-freezer for COVID vaccine storage to Tecnam's P2012 TRAVELCARE aircraft
DESMON’s ultra-freezer ready for onboarding

P2012 TRAVELCARE’s Capacity, Reach & COVID Vaccine Transportation Cost

Combining the cargo capacity of Tecnam P2012 aircraft, or the “carrier”, with DESMON’s specialized ultra-freezer, or the “cooler”, the P2012 TRAVELCARE aircraft can transport as many as 115,000 COVID vaccine doses per trip.

Most importantly, P2012 TRAVELCARE can reach even the most inaccessible communities as the aircraft can land on both paved and unpaved runways, including gravel, dirt and grass. It provides the agility of a helicopter, but with a significantly larger capacity.

Certified to fly in any weather, the P2012 TRAVELCARE allows for a fast pickup from the main delivery hubs, as well as capillary distribution from main international airports to any small remote airfield or airstrip.

Equipped with DESMON’s specialized ultra-freezer, this platform not only reaches where others cannot, but it also allows for further distribution.

When powered, the platform can maintain temperature conditions at up to -86°C.

Thanks to its unique thermal insulation, when disconnected from power, it can maintain the temperature at -65°C for 10-12h in any weather conditions.

This means that distributors can safely and efficiently move the vaccines to multiple storage units upon handover.

P2012 TRAVELCARE is also 500% faster than trucks and 50% faster than a helicopter which could greatly accelerate the vaccine delivery.

Finally, operating P2012 TRAVELCARE is extremely cost-efficient. The average transportation cost per vaccine is calculated at €0.004 ($0.005) per vaccine dose, per flight hour.

“With its large cargo capability, speed, unparalleled reach and cost-efficiency, and powered with DESMON’s latest-generation ultra-freezer, P2012 TRAVELCARE is the most advanced COVID vaccine transportation system yet.”

  • Fabio Russo
Photo showing the inside of Tecnam’s P2012 TRAVELCARE platform
In the COVID-free world, P2012 TRAVELCARE aircraft will be ready for new missions within minutes

P2012 TRAVELCARE in the COVID-Free World: What Happens When the Mission Is Accomplished?

“The value of the P2012 platform will extend beyond this mission. Today, it will facilitate the vaccine transportation; tomorrow it will continue to serve communities as the platform can be reconfigured within less than an hour.

  • Giovanni Pascale Langer

The COVID vaccines have given us hope that the end to this devastating pandemic is near.

How well we handle the logistics challenges can determine the speed of global recovery. The world is racing to save as many lives as possible.

P2012 TRAVELCARE is our contribution to this fight.

And once the last payloads of the COVID vaccine are delivered, P2012 TRAVELCARE’s mission will carry on.

The platform is designed to be reconfigured within minutes, going from a COVID vaccine transportation system to other special missions or commercial projects.

Questions About P2012 TRAVELCARE?

For media and commercial enquiries about P2012 TRAVELCARE, please contact [email protected].

Find other contact information here.

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