Italian aircraft manufacturer Piaggio Aero (Booth No. 3717) yesterday celebrated a milestone agreement with the sale of 22 Avanti II twin turboprops to U.S. fractional operator Avantair.
The pending deal is valued at more than $150 million and deliveries are to begin in 2011 and continue through 2012. By the time the last Avanti II is turned over to Avantair, the Clearwater, Fla.-based company’s fleet of Avantis and Avanti IIs will total more than 100 aircraft.
“This agreement is one of the largest sales in the history of Piaggio Aero,” said Piaggio Aero Industries CEO José di Mase.
Said Avantair CEO Steven Santo, “We are proud to be the only fractional provider in the U.S. offering the Avanti II.” Avantair launched its operation in 2003 with an order for six Avantis, insisting that it was an ideal airplane for the fractional ownership market.
The Avanti II is equipped with fully digital, automatic flight controls and the latest generation Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics package. Although originally designed nearly 25 years ago, it remains the fastest twin turboprop in the world with a max cruise speed of more than 400 knots.
The only problem Piaggio Aero has faced since the company’s revival has been a production schedule that cannot meet growing demand. But Piaggio America’s new CEO, Eric Hinson, remains optimistic that improvements on the current production line and institution of lean production methods will make a difference in the near term. And a new parts production factory, on which construction will begin in 2008, will allow a further increase in the long term.
For 2008, “we plan to make 32, maybe 34 customer deliveries [and] in 2009 we should meet the right book-to-build ratio and deliver 40 airplanes,” Hinson said.