New Piaggio Aero general manager Eligio Trombetta was in bullish form at EBACE as he outlined plans for the new P1XX jet, the next aircraft to join the Italian airframer’s stable. And it seems that the new model will be more of a step up from the existing P.180 Avanti than some had imagined.
“The P1XX ideally will go beyond Europe,” he said. One of Piaggio’s key shareholders is India’s Tata group and its intercontinental ambitions could mean that a London-Mumbai city pair would be just the sort of reach being targeted for Piaggio’s first jet. At a distance of 3,900 nm, this would mean a 2,440-nm range increase over the P.180 Avanti II, which can fly for 1,450 nm. To achieve this extension, the OEM would have to either increase the cabin and engine sizes, which would come into the large-cabin, 7,000-pound-thrust category, or add fuel capacity.
Piaggio will be ready to present its designs for the P1XX, plus supplier selection suggestions, to its shareholders by this summer. This potentially clears the way for a program launch at this October’s NBAA convention in Las Vegas.
Trombetta said the jet would not be “much bigger” than the company’s twin-pusher turboprop, so increased fuel capacity is the likelier option. Either way, the aircraft will probably be substantially different from the Avanti, but he stressed that it not compete with the P.180.
The Avanti is also due for some upgrades by 2012, namely an increased range of 200 to 300 nm and a new braking system, as well as a lower external noise footprint and cabin connectivity.
Piaggio (Stand 2143) is also working on improving customer support. “We have an important customer base, and will make more equipment available,” Trombetta said. After a million flight hours there is enough data on the P.180 for Piaggio to ascertain which components are most useful for its dealers to stock.
The new boss has spent some of his time at EBACE meeting his team of sales agents, which he is expanding worldwide, particularly into emerging markets. The P.180 has now been STC’d for Brazil, Australia and India and is to achieve its Russian ticket this June. The company is also working with the Chinese Civil Aviation Authority on a Chinese certification.