During a recent visit to Piaggio’s Italian home, EBACE Convention News got a first-hand demonstration of how the P180 Avanti can enable business people to make trips that would have been infeasible by other means. Having briefed journalists at its Genoa headquarters on the northwest coast of Italy, Piaggio wanted them to visit the famous Ferrari sports car factory in Maranello near Modena in the center of the country.
Almost 20 years since the P180 Avanti made its first flight in August 1986, the eye-catching twin pusherprop at last seems to have established itself in the business aviation community. Piaggio acknowledges that the radical new design arrived in the marketplace at the wrong time in the early 1990s and its slow initial sales almost killed off the company.
Piaggio Aero Industries (Booth No. 1644) is accelerating production of its P180 Avanti II twin pusherprop after finally completing certification by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration at the end of March. By early April, 103 Avantis had been delivered (mainly the original Avanti I version, and with 61 going to U.S. customers and 42 to Europe) and just over 100 more are on order, with the backlog stretching into 2008.
Mudabala Development, an investment company owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, is considering playing an industrial role within Piaggio Aero (Booth No. 1644) after it recently acquired a 35-percent stake in the Italian-based company. Here at a Piaggio press conference yesterday, a board member from Mudabala insisted he is seeking more than just a financial return on investment.
Mubadala Development, an investment company owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, has acquired 35 percent of Italy’s Piaggio Aero, manufacturer of the Avanti II turboprop twin. “The transaction is founded on a shared belief by the two parties that the business aviation segment will continue to expand significantly over the foreseeable future,” Piaggio officials said.
Piaggio shipped only three Avantis in the first nine months of this year, hardly enough to keep up with demand, particularly from one of the OEM’s largest single customers, fractional provider Avantair. Lack of new Avantis is the primary reason that Avantair will record a loss of nearly $21 million this year, according to a recent SEC filing by the company’s new owner, Ardent Acquisition.
Landmark Aviation and Avantair announced a five-year maintenance service agreement for Landmark to provide service, including heavy maintenance inspections, for the fractional carrier’s fleet of Piaggio Avantis. The value of the contract is $5 million over five years and couldincrease if additional aircraft are serviced.
Arinc Direct’s FAA Part 145 certified repair station at the Scottsdale, Ariz. airport is now a factory authorized service center for the Piaggio Avanti and Avanti II. Arinc Direct Scottsdale becomes only the second Part 145 repair center in the U.S. to earn the Piaggio factory service authorization, according to Piaggio. Arinc Direct is at NBAA’06 Booth No. 758 with details on its services and capabilities.
Italy’s Piaggio Aero Industries, builder of the Avanti II turboprop twin, last month signed an agreement with Pratt & Whitney Canada to acquire 25 percent of its Turbo Engines Corp., which produces the PW206 and PW207 rotorcraft engines. These engines power Agusta, Bell, Eurocopter and MD helicopters.
The Avanti II won EASA certification in October, and delivery of the first new-version aircraft was scheduled for shortly after the Dubai Air Show (November 20 to 24) to an unidentified Swiss customer.