Paris Air Show

Piaggio makes French Avanti sale

 - December 13, 2006, 1:08 PM

Piaggio Aero Industries yesterday sold a Piaggio P.180 Avanti II to an undisclosed French customer. The new twin turboprop pusher will be delivered in January 2008. The deal was struck here at Le Bourget by the Italian manufacturer’s French agent Theirry Boutsen.

Meanwhile, Piaggio will present the new Avanti II model at November’s National Business Aviation Association show in New Orleans. The development of the Italian airframer’s P.180 Avanti twin turboprop pusher features Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics and it will replace the existing model on the production line from serial number 105.

The 100th Avanti P.180 was rolled out on June 9 at its production facility in Genoa featuring a customized paint scheme emblazoned on its fuselage and tail with the number 100. Piaggio Aero senior vice president, commercial, Massimo Isidori told Aviation International News that New Jersey-based fractional ownership operator Avantair will take delivery of the 100th aircraft, its 15th new 180, in early September. The company has ordered a total of 43 Piaggio turboprops–the largest order in the planemaker’s history–29 of which were built last year.

According to Isidori, the main difference with the new Avanti is the avionics suite. The Pro-Line 21 features three 10- by 8-inch liquid-crystal adaptive flight displays, FMS 3000 flight management system and AHS 3000 altitude heading reference system.

The Avanti II will typically fly with up to seven passengers but is certified to be configured for up to nine passengers, one or two pilots and the crew. It cruises at an almost jet-like speed of 395 ktas.

The new model is certified for maximum operating mach (Mmo) to 0.70 and can fly at altitudes up to 41,000 ft. Other enhancements include an increase in maximum zero fuel weight from 9,000 to 9,800 pounds maximum takeoff weight from 11,550 to 12,050 pounds and reduced empty weight. This increases the useful load by two to three passengers at longer ranges or extends the range with full passenger load by 200 miles.

“The Avanti comes with a stand-up cabin that is larger than many midsize jets,” said Isidori. The cabin boasts 69 inches of headroom and is 72 inches wide.

Piaggio’s backlog for the Avanti has reached 70 aircraft, providing production work until the end of 2007. Production of 20 aircraft is planned for this year, rising to 26 in 2006 and to “more than 30” in 2007.

But Piaggio still isn’t finished with refining the Avanti. “We are definitely thinking about something new regarding the Avanti, but for the time being we can make no further comment,” said Isidori.

Nonetheless, the company has acknowledged that it will introduce an upgraded PT6-66B engine that currently is being developed by Pratt & Whitney Canada, adding 10 knots or more to cruise speeds at between approximately 31,000 and 41,000 feet.