When Dornier Seaplane (Static Display) debuted its amphibious Seastar at last year’s NBAA Convention, CEO Joe Walker outlined a number of goals, including the need to select a production location, develop a production plan, upgrade the demonstrator airplane and garner at least 25 orders to launch the program.
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.
In 1983, NBAA convention-goers who happened to be at the static display at Dallas Love Field at the right time witnessed a bit of history when a radical-looking airplane made a flyby. The flyby was the coming-out party for what would become the Beech Starship, an all-composite canard twin-turboprop that looked nothing like any other airplane ever built or even contemplated.
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.
Jet Works Air Center has begun delivering completed SJ30 light jets for Dubai-based Emivest, an 80-percent share holder in the former manufacturer, Sino Swearingen.
Dornier’s twin-turboprop all-composite Seastar CD2 made its first appearance at the EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wis., in July, the first stop in a tour of North America that included demo flights in Vancouver, Canada, and Seattle, culminating in a visit to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Monterey, Calif., in August. At Oshkosh, “The response was much greater than anticipated,” said Dornier Seaplane CEO Joe Walker.
Dornier Seaplane exhibited its all-composite Seastar amphibian at the Canadian Business Aviation Association show in Montreal in late May, showing off fresh paint and an upgraded interior. The Seastar program “is gaining momentum,” according to Joe Walker, CEO of the Punta Gorda, Fla.-based company, which has taken orders for 25 of the twin-turboprop amphibians.
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.
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.