Piaggio Aero Industries yesterday sold a Piaggio P.180 Avanti II to an undisclosed French customer. The new twin turboprop pusher will be delivered in January 2008. The deal was struck here at Le Bourget by the Italian manufacturer’s French agent Theirry Boutsen.
Piaggio Aero Industries is showcasing the new Avanti II version of its distinctive twin pusherprop here at Dubai 2005 this week. But the Italian company is remaining tight-lipped about long-anticipated plans for a new light business jet.
The Avanti II completed European certification last month and delivery of the first new-version aircraft is to follow to an unnamed Swiss customer.
In response to the Ardent Acquisitions filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on how lack of expected Avanti deliveries is affecting its bottom line, Piaggio Aero headquarters in Italy provided the following statement:
“The delivery of three aircraft in the first three quarters of this year was not in line with our plans for a number of reasons.
Piaggio Aero Industries is preparing to launch a new jet program before the end of this year and is debating which of two designs to develop. On April 19, the Italian firm laid the financial foundations for the anticipated product launch when it announced that Mubadala Development, an investment company owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, is purchasing a 35-percent stake in its business.
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 markets the P180 Avanti as offering close to jet speed and a generously proportioned cabin that can seat up to nine passengers (but more typically is configured for six or seven). Innovative aerodynamics give the aircraft its cutting edge, featuring laminar flow optimized throughout the low-drag fuselage.
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.
The first delivered Piaggio Aero P180 Avanti II will be covered by Jet Support Services, Inc.’s (JSSI) Tip-to-Tail hourly maintenance cost program. The twin pusherprop has been operated by Swiss company Fly Wings. The Tip-to-Toe package, which covers both the airframe and the Avanti II’s Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-66 engines, is jointly offered by JSSI (Booth No. 221) and Piaggio Aero (Booth No. 1644).
Bob Pond, who owns the first production Piaggio P.180 Avanti, has ordered a new Avanti II to replace it. He plans to add the superseded airplane to the 25-plus aircraft in the Palm Springs Air Museum in California, which he founded in 1996 after retiring as CEO of Advance Machine Co.