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.
Piaggio Aero (Booth D11) has appointed CAEA Aviation Investment Co. as its exclusive sales agent in China. The Italian manufacturer also has announced CAEA’s first sale here at the Singapore Airshow, comprising two P180 Avanti II turboprops, to an unnamed customer.
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.
As the majority shareholder in Piaggio Aero Industries, with a 31.5-percent stake, Mubadala of Abu Dhabi is taking the lead in trying to advance the Italian airframer’s plans to launch a new business jet. The company is due to present a business plan and technical specifications for the proposed program by early 2012.
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 Industries apparently will enter the business-jet market only if it can line up an existing major aircraft manufacturer as a risk-sharing partner in the long-awaited program. Majority shareholder Mubadala has identified Dassault, Gulfstream and Cessna as prospective partners for a Piaggio jet, according to Homaid Al Shemmari, executive director of the Abu Dhabi group’s aerospace unit.
Piaggio Aero has appointed Waterford, Mich.-based Pentastar Aviation a non-exclusive authorized service center. The agreement allows the MRO to provide maintenance services and support for the Piaggio Avanti II. The company, which also has a Van Nuys, Calif. operation, will act as a Piaggio Aero sales center in the upper Midwest.
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.