Fractional provider Avantair, which operates only Piaggio Avanti turboprop twins, opened a new operations center at its headquarters at Clearwater/St. Petersburg (Fla.) Airport early last month. The facility–which features three 200-inch screens to track aircraft 24/7 and monitor weather and breaking news–now serves as mission control for all Avantair flights.
It’s no secret that Piaggio Aero has been working on developing a jet, and this work has accelerated with the support of shareholders Tata and Mubadala. According to John Bingham, president and CEO of Piaggio America and chief marketing officer for Piaggio Aero, development of the P1XX jet is ongoing and the recession has allowed Piaggio Aero to hire some new talent to help bring the program to fruition.
Avantair continues to take deliveries of new Avanti II turboprop twins and expects to more than double the size of its all-Avanti fleet over the next three years from 52 to 107 aircraft, the Clearwater, Fla.-based company said. Meanwhile, its aircraft card program continues to grow, with first-quarter sales reportedly increasing 183 percent from year-ago levels.
Avantair on December 15 took delivery of its 50th Piaggio Avanti turboprop twin–in line, it said, with Avantair’s steady fleet expansion since it was started in July 2003. At present, Avantair operates the youngest fleet in the fractional aircraft industry, at approximately 3.7 years, according to the JetNet Fractional Ownership and Aircraft Report.
Elbit Systems of America’s (Booth No. 3113) Kollsman general aviation vision system (GAViS)–a head-down enhanced-vision system–is undergoing installation and certification on both the Piaggio Avanti II turboprop twin and Sikorsky S-76 helicopter. GAViS houses an infrared sensor in a single, aerodynamic line-replaceable unit, which allows for easy installation on an aircraft’s exterior.
The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale and National Aeronautic Association have certified five speed records set by a Piaggio Avanti. The records for average speed over a recognized course were set earlier this year with pilot Joe Ritchie and copilot Steve Fossett at the controls. The records include:
Fractional operator Avantair, launched at the NBAA Convention in September as Skyline Aviation Services, has two sold-out Piaggio Avantis in service. The company, based at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, N.Y., expects to put two more Avantis into service this month, with a fifth to arrive next month.
Piaggio Aero Industries, which emerged from bankruptcy five years ago and has gradually stopped bleeding red ink, last month received a record order valued at approximately $200 million for 29 Avanti turboprop twins, including the conversion of five options to firm orders from an earlier acquisition by the same buyer.
With the addition of new partners, the Italian aircraft manufacturer Piaggio Aero (Booth No. 3717) is increasing its U.S. presence, and in particular its commitment to customer support in the North American market.
At press time, nothing was said to be finalized, but Rockwell Collins and Piaggio were working on a deal to offer Pro Line avionics in the Avanti, according to a spokesman for the Italian airframer. The turboprop twin currently has older Collins avionics.