During the late 1960s, the Spanish Air Force was still operating the already outdated three-engined Junkers Ju 52 and two-engined Douglas C-47, unpressurized and non-turbocharged piston-powered aircraft. CASA developed the C-212 as a more modern alternative using the lighter and more reliable turboprop engine, with the first prototype flying on 26 March 1971. In 1974, the Spanish Air Force decided to acquire the Aviocar to update its fleet.
Airlines took note of the type's success with the military, so CASA developed a commercial version, the first examples of which were delivered in July 1975. In August 2006 a total of 30 CASA C-212 aircraft (all variants) remain in airline service around the world.
The C-212 has a high-mounted wing, a boxy fuselage, and a conventional tail. The tricycle undercarriage is non-retractable. It has space for 21–28 passengers depending on configuration. Since the C-212 does not have a pressurized fuselage, it is limited to relatively low-flight-level airline usage (below 10,000 ft (3,000 m) MSL). It is thus ideal for short legs and regional airline service.
- C-212A : Original military production version. Also known as C-212-5, C-212-5 series 100M, and by the Spanish Air Force as the T-12B and D-3A (for medevac aircraft), 129 built.
- C-212AV : VIP transport version, T-12C.
- C-212B : Six pre-production C-212As converted for photo-reconnaissance missions, TR-12A.
- C-212C : Original civil version
- C-212D : Two pre-production C-212As converted for use as navigational trainers, TE-12B.
- NC-212-100 : Manufactured under licence in Indonesia since 1976, IPTN producing 28 NC-212-100s before switching to NC-212-200.
Series 200 : Stretched version with updated engines (Honeywell TPE331-10R-511C or -512C, rated at 900 shp (671 kW) each), introduced in 1979. The CASA C-212-200 is also a popular skydiving aircraft, known for its large capacity, fast climb, and large tailgate exit ramp.
- C-212 series 200M : Military version known as T-12D in Spanish service and Tp 89 for the Swedish Air Force. Specialised ASW and maritime patrol aircraft have been built from this version.
- NC-212-200 : C-212-200 built under licence by IPTN.
- NC-212-200 MPA : C-212-200 built under licence by IPTN, Designed as Maritime Patrol Aircraft
Series 300 : Standard production version from 1987 on. Engines were Honeywell TPE331-10R-513C, also rated at 900 shp (670 kW) continuous (925 shp maximum). The propellers were changed from four-bladed Hartzell composite blade propellers to four-bladed Dowty-Rotol all-metal propellers. Winglets and a larger vertical stabilizer area provide improved performance, and the addition of a nose baggage compartment gives the nose a more streamlined look than the Series 200. Various systems have been incrementally upgraded, including the addition of an integrated autopilot system.
- C-212-M series 300 (Series 300M) : Military version.
- C-212 series 300 airliner : 26 seat regional airliner.
- C-212 series 300 utility : 23 seat civil utility version.
- C-212 series 300P : Civil utility version with Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65 engines
Series 400 : Upgraded version with 925 shp (690 kW) TPE331-12JR-701C engines, increased payload and upgraded avionics moved from under the floor to the nose. First flew 4 April 1997, replacing Series 300 in production from 1998.