On Sunday under a humid central Florida sky, a Piaggio P.180 Avanti settled to the runway at Orlando Executive Airport, setting a speed record for Class C-1.E/2 aircraft (twin turboprops 6,614 lb to 13,228 lb).
With delivery of a reconfigured Piaggio Avanti twin-turboprop pusher on September 19 and a second green Avanti expected this month, Stevens Aviation will bring its total output of the model to three. The October aircraft is the second of a series of seven completions being performed at Stevens’ Donaldson Center in Greenville, S.C., under an agreement with Piaggio America.
Piaggio Avanti fractional provider Avantair is narrowing its losses and on course to reach profitability in the near future, company CEO Steven Santo said May 14 during a quarterly investor conference. In the first three months of this year, the Clearwater, Fla.-based operator increased its year-over-year revenues by 51 percent, to $29.9 million, and decreased its net loss by $2 million, to $5.4 million.
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.
Piaggio Aero is about to deliver the 150th P180 Avanti II to a customer and the Italian airframer at last seems to be coming to grips with an unacceptably slow production process that has badly stalled its output rate for the program.
Piaggio Aero Industries, which emerged from receivership in 1998, found a new lease on life for its sleek P.180 Avanti business turboprop with the establishment of Piaggio America two years ago. A visit to the U.S. by Piaggio Aero president Piero Ferrari earlier this year brought fresh enthusiasm and a promise of new things to come. Speaking with AIN, Ferrari expounded on his expectations for the Avanti.
The final day of the NBAA convention in Orlando, Fla., last month opened to gray clouds and gathering rain. But for the Piaggio Aero team, there was nothing but sunshine and broad smiles.
For the Italian aviation company, the three-day show was highlighted by a record-setting flight, orders for 11 new airplanes, entry into the fractional-ownership market and a 600-hr engine TBO extension.
Piaggio Aero, the Italian maker of the sleek P.180 Avanti, is engaged in “some very positive” discussions that would create a fractional-ownership fleet of P.180s.
Steve Hanvey, president and CEO of Piaggio America and a board member of parent company Piaggio Aero, told AIN the Genoa-based aircraft manufacturer has been approached by a number of fractional operators, “including some in Europe.”
Piaggio Avanti fractional provider Avantair has been steadily building its operation and is taking delivery of the twin turboprops as fast as Piaggio can make them. Next year it will expand its fleet in a different direction with the addition of entry-level Phenom 100 twinjets. We sat down with Avantair founder and CEO Steve Santo for an update on the company and to find out what his plans are for the new fleet type.
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.