Sky Limo Air Charter of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., announced receiving FAA approval on Monday to place an ex-Avantair Piaggio Avanti (N306MS) on its Part 135 charter certificate, as well as the successful completion of the first charter flight with the aircraft yesterday. N306MS is one of five Avantis repossessed by Avantair creditor Midsouth Services before the Clearwater, Fla.-based fractional company entered bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy hearings for Avantair held last month in Tampa, Fla., brought some needed good news for share owners of the 56 ex-Avantair Piaggio Avantis who are hoping to return their aircraft to the sky. During one of the hearings, the Italian aircraft manufacturer unveiled a Service Bulletin (SB) that provides a path for owners of these Avantis to regain their airworthiness certificates, which were revoked by the FAA in late July and August.
St. Petersburg, Fla.-based fractional provider Avantair restarted operations on Friday following a nearly three-week voluntary grounding of its approximately 60 Piaggio Avantis. “We’re back and flying, and are covering all our trips now,” Avantair CEO Steve Santo told AIN yesterday.
Fractional provider Avantair continues to stand down operations and has retained safety expert Nick Sabatini to help complete a thorough examination of its fleet of about 60 Piaggio Avantis, including a comprehensive review of records and supporting maintenance documentation. It has also furloughed all of its pilots and operations staff.
Coming off its first two airplane sales in China, announced last month, Italian manufacturer Piaggio Aero is eager to prove here at the ABACE show that those two P.180 Avanti IIs represent just the opening of the door into the Chinese business aviation market.
Piaggio Aero Industries delivered the 100th Avanti in the U.S., the manufacturer announced on Tuesday. The centennial aircraft, S/N 1216, was delivered to Clearwater, Fla.-based fractional provider Avantair, which operates the world’s largest fleet of Avantis. With this recent delivery, Avantair now operates 57 Avantis.
A pair of significant milestones underscores West Star Aviation’s continued growth in a depressed economy. The company is in the final stage of a planned service capabilities expansion and facilities consolidation at its Dallas Love Field (DAL) location. In addition, the company’s East Alton, Ill. (ALN) facility has been named a Piaggio Aero authorized service center.
An STC’d RVSM avionics installation for the twin-turboprop Piaggio P.180 Avanti will be provided by Stevens Aviation of Greenville, S.C. Stevens was also selected by Piaggio to provide the interior installation and exterior paint for the airplane. Completions by Stevens are already under way on seven Avantis.
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.
Notwithstanding the weak economy, Piaggio delivered 14 Avantis last year, two more than in 2001 and eight more than in 2000, when the reorganized Italian company resumed production and marketing of the twin turboprop. Although the total number of Avanti deliveries over the last three years is modest compared with those of other aircraft manufacturers, Piaggio’s growth rate is enviable in terms of percentage.
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