Fractional provider Avantair continues to stand down operations and has retained safety expert Nick Sabatini to help complete a thorough examination of its fleet of about 60 Piaggio Avantis, including a comprehensive review of records and supporting maintenance documentation. It has also furloughed all of its pilots and operations staff.
The voluntary fleet grounding at Avantair apparently is continuing into its sixth day. Avantair told AIN earlier this week that it stood down its entire fleet of about 60 Piaggio Avantis on Saturday to conduct safety checks. According to sources, the action was prompted by a July 28 incident in which an Avantair Avanti shed an elevator in flight.
Coming off its first two airplane sales in China, announced last month, Italian manufacturer Piaggio Aero is eager to prove here at the ABACE show that those two P.180 Avanti IIs represent just the opening of the door into the Chinese business aviation market.
Two Avantair pilots and two passengers suffered only minor injuries when their Piaggio Avanti P.180 went off the west side of Runway 18 and flipped over while landing at Flint (Mich.) Bishop International Airport last Wednesday.
Piaggio Aero Industries delivered the 100th Avanti in the U.S., the manufacturer announced on Tuesday. The centennial aircraft, S/N 1216, was delivered to Clearwater, Fla.-based fractional provider Avantair, which operates the world’s largest fleet of Avantis. With this recent delivery, Avantair now operates 57 Avantis.
Van Nuys, Calif.-based Elite Aviation has partnered with Piaggio Aero to expand Piaggio Avanti II sales on the U.S. West Coast. Under the agreement Elite will handle Avanti II sales in California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada. “The move into sales is a logical extension for Elite Aviation,” the company said.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has certified Piaggio Aero’s P.180 Avanti and Avanti II, the Italy-based airframer announced at NBAA 2011 in Las Vegas. The type certification confirms that the aircraft comply with Chinese regulations and can now be registered and operated in the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong.
Piaggio Aero general manager Eligio Trombetta announced that the company is currently working several new product upgrade programs for its P.180 Avanti II twin turboprop pusher, including new and quieter propellers, an improved environmental control system (ECS), a digital cabin management system (CMS) and anti-skid brakes.
Piaggio Aero broke ground on June 15 for its new production plant in Villanova D’Albenga, Italy. Piaggio plans to move Avanti II parts and subassembly manufacture and engine manufacturing and MRO operations from its current plant in Finale Ligure to the new facility, with operations scheduled to begin in 2013. Avanti II final assembly will remain at the factory in Genova Sestri Ponente.