Dubai Airshow shoppers looking to buy an aircraft made by a locally owned company need look no further than the Piaggio Avanti II. The eye-catching twin turbo-prop exudes the Italian style of its origins but Piaggio Aero Industries itself is exhibiting here under the auspices of its one-third shareholder Mubadala Development Co. of Abu Dhabi (Stand C510).
Piaggio Aero CEO Alberto Galassi yesterday confirmed that the company’s much anticipated, follow-on aircraft to the P.180 Avanti II turboprop would be a jet. “Definitely,” he said.
It has been one year since one of the world’s largest industrial conglomerates, India’s Tata Sons, purchased a one-third share of Piaggio Aero Industries, joining Italy’s Ferrari and Di Mase families and Mubadala Development of Abu Dhabi, UAE, as a primary shareholder.
While the rest of the world continues to struggle in the grip of an economic crisis, the recent Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (Labace) suggests that business aviation in Latin America, and Brazil in particular, is healthy and growing. Labace 2009’s record log of 13,342 visitors was 1,212 more than the previous year, not to mention the healthy list of 110 exhibitors.
As the larger fractional ownership operations lay off employees and/or reduce aircraft delivery rates, Clearwater, Fla.-based Avantair is watching its fleet of 53 Avantis and Avanti IIs grow as quickly as Italian manufacturer Piaggio can deliver them, with six more due before year-end.
Piaggio Aero has signed an memorandum of understanding with Sabena Technics that sets the framework for a contract to paint part of its P.180 Avanti twin business turboprop aircraft.
Under the terms of the proposed contract, Sabena would carry out painting services on new aircraft that roll out of Piaggio Aero’s facilities in Genoa, Italy. Sabena expects to start painting its first livery by the end of next month.
Piaggio has received three firm orders for the P.180 Avanti II twin turboprop–two from the United Arab Emirates military and another from Susi Air in Indonesia. The UAE air force will use its Avanti IIs for transportation of specialized staff and medical evacuation. An ambulance kit enables quick reconfiguration. The aircraft come with a complete integrated logistics support package, including training for pilots and maintenance technicians.
Clearwater, Fla.-based fractional provider Avantair reported another quarter of positive EBITA profits in a difficult economic environment, putting the Piaggio Avanti fleet operator on the path to health after years of losses. In its fiscal third quarter, which ended March 31, the company saw year-over-year revenues climb 15.7 percent to $34.7 million.
Piaggio Aero Industries’ new management team is still refusing to go public on long-rumored plans that it will launch a new jet program. At the same time, the Italian manufacturer has reported that production rates for the existing P.180 Avanti II twin pusherprop are holding up well in soft market conditions.
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.