Fractional operator Avantair, launched at the NBAA Convention in September as Skyline Aviation Services, has two sold-out Piaggio Avantis in service. The company, based at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, N.Y., expects to put two more Avantis into service this month, with a fifth to arrive next month.
The final day of the NBAA convention in Orlando, Fla., last month opened to gray clouds and gathering rain. But for the Piaggio Aero team, there was nothing but sunshine and broad smiles.
For the Italian aviation company, the three-day show was highlighted by a record-setting flight, orders for 11 new airplanes, entry into the fractional-ownership market and a 600-hr engine TBO extension.
Piaggio Aero, the Italian maker of the sleek P.180 Avanti, is engaged in “some very positive” discussions that would create a fractional-ownership fleet of P.180s.
Steve Hanvey, president and CEO of Piaggio America and a board member of parent company Piaggio Aero, told AIN the Genoa-based aircraft manufacturer has been approached by a number of fractional operators, “including some in Europe.”
Piaggio Avanti, Battle Mountain, Nev., Dec. 7, 2007–After landing on a wet runway at Battle Mountain, the pilot engaged the nosewheel steering just below 60 knots indicated, and the airplane veered left. It turned 180 degrees and slid backward, running off the runway. The right main gear collapsed and the airplane was substantially damaged. No mechanical anomalies were found.
Piaggio Avanti fractional provider Avantair has been steadily building its operation and is taking delivery of the twin turboprops as fast as Piaggio can make them. Next year it will expand its fleet in a different direction with the addition of entry-level Phenom 100 twinjets. We sat down with Avantair founder and CEO Steve Santo for an update on the company and to find out what his plans are for the new fleet type.
Notwithstanding the weak economy, Piaggio delivered 14 Avantis last year, two more than in 2001 and eight more than in 2000, when the reorganized Italian company resumed production and marketing of the twin turboprop. Although the total number of Avanti deliveries over the last three years is modest compared with those of other aircraft manufacturers, Piaggio’s growth rate is enviable in terms of percentage.
Piaggio America of Greenville, S.C., has signed a deal for nine Avanti twin turboprops for a new fractional operation by Calgary, Alberta, Canada startup Avia Aviation. The contract includes a firm order for three Avantis, with options for six more. This is Piaggio’s second order from a fractional operator. The first was from Skyline Aviation at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, N.Y., for six Avantis, with an option for two more.
Piaggio Avanti, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., March 20, 2007–The left landing gear of the Avantair Avanti collapsed on landing at Hollywood International Airport. The left tire blew out and separated from its rim. No one was injured but the airplane was substantially damaged.
In its first-quarter FY2008 report issued in mid-November, Clearwater, Fla.-based fractional provider Avantair said revenues increased 52.9 percent, to $25.7 million, year-over-year, but its quarterly net loss increased to $4.8 million from $3.8 million the previous year.
While no manufacturers actually launched new aircraft at the NBAA Convention last month, several did commit to major improvements for their existing products. Notably, Cessna, Piaggio and Bombardier announced extensive upgrades–involving newer or more powerful engines, avionics and/or interior makeovers–for their CJ1 and CJ2, Avanti and Learjet 40 business airplanes, respectively.