Piaggio Aero Industries, Italian manufacturer of the P.180 Avanti II twin turboprop, and ACEA (Beijing) Aviation Investment Co., exclusive distributor for the aircraft in Mainland China, signed a contract here at NBAA 2013 yesterday with SR Jet, a division of Beijing-based Sparkle Roll Investment Holdings, for the purchase of two Avanti IIs with options for an additional eight.
The aircraft will be customized for extended range mission capabilities and incorporate an additional tank with a 400-pound capacity, increasing the maximum fuel onboard from 2,826 to 3,226 pounds and extending the maximum range an additional 250-nm, to 1,720 nm with IFR reserves. This will enable the extended range Avanti IIs to fly from Beijing to Hainan or Hanoi, or from Las Vegas to Jacksonville, Fla., Charlotte, N.C., Cancun, Mexico or Toronto.
“Today’s agreement is a great achievement of the marketing efforts that Piaggio Aero and CAEA Aviation are devoting to the Chinese market for our P.180 Avanti II,” said Giuliano Felten, Piaggio Aero deputy general manager and chief commercial officer. “We are very proud of this new extended-range variant of our aircraft, which provides maximum flexibility for the Avanti II operators who are now able to fly longer missions with an unbeatable level of comfort and speed.”
No airframe modifications are required for installation of the additional fuel tank, which occupies only a portion of a closet in the lavatory, according to Piaggio. The first delivery of SR Jet’s Avanti IIs is scheduled for March 2014.
“The Piaggio P.180 is absolutely a unique twin-engine turboprop aircraft, with the core advantages of unmatched performance, unbeatable comfort and cost efficiency that is integral to SR Jet’s development of China’s business aviation market,” said Xingzhuo Ji, president and executive director of SR Air. “This unique aircraft differs from traditional turboprop aircraft, as this is the exclusive aircraft which has the cruising altitude, speed, climb performance and cabin comfort of a jet aircraft, but costs the price and has the operating cost of a typical turboprop.”
Piaggio America president and CEO John Bingham told AIN that a U.S. customer has also ordered an extended-range Avanti II; the aircraft is “on the production line,” he said.