Piaggio Aero Industries (Booth No. 1644) is accelerating production of its P180 Avanti II twin pusherprop after finally completing certification by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration at the end of March. By early April, 103 Avantis had been delivered (mainly the original Avanti I version, and with 61 going to U.S. customers and 42 to Europe) and just over 100 more are on order, with the backlog stretching into 2008.
The first delivered Piaggio Aero P180 Avanti II will be covered by Jet Support Services, Inc.’s (JSSI) Tip-to-Tail hourly maintenance cost program. The twin pusherprop has been operated by Swiss company Fly Wings. The Tip-to-Toe package, which covers both the airframe and the Avanti II’s Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-66 engines, is jointly offered by JSSI (Booth No. 221) and Piaggio Aero (Booth No. 1644).
Bob Pond, who owns the first production Piaggio P.180 Avanti, has ordered a new Avanti II to replace it. He plans to add the superseded airplane to the 25-plus aircraft in the Palm Springs Air Museum in California, which he founded in 1996 after retiring as CEO of Advance Machine Co.
Owners of Piaggio Avanti twin-pusher turboprops were presented with some good news yesterday in the form of an announcement by avionics maker Rockwell Collins that it will offer buyers the chance to upgrade to Pro Line 21 avionics, the same baseline cockpit that is sold in new Avanti IIs rolling out of the factory.
Mubadala Development, an investment company owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, has acquired 35 percent of Italy’s Piaggio Aero, manufacturer of the Avanti II turboprop twin. “The transaction is founded on a shared belief by the two parties that the business aviation segment will continue to expand significantly over the foreseeable future,” Piaggio officials said.
Piaggio shipped only three Avantis in the first nine months of this year, hardly enough to keep up with demand, particularly from one of the OEM’s largest single customers, fractional provider Avantair. Lack of new Avantis is the primary reason that Avantair will record a loss of nearly $21 million this year, according to a recent SEC filing by the company’s new owner, Ardent Acquisition.
Landmark Aviation and Avantair announced a five-year maintenance service agreement for Landmark to provide service, including heavy maintenance inspections, for the fractional carrier’s fleet of Piaggio Avantis. The value of the contract is $5 million over five years and couldincrease if additional aircraft are serviced.
Piaggio Aero Industries chief executive Josè DiMase yesterday confirmed industry speculation that the Italian manufacturer is indeed developing a business jet, revealing that the new airplane would be larger and have a longer range than the company’s sleek Avanti II turboprop.
The Avanti II won EASA certification in October, and delivery of the first new-version aircraft was scheduled for shortly after the Dubai Air Show (November 20 to 24) to an unidentified Swiss customer.
Although Piaggio named two new completion centers for the Avanti at the NBAA Convention last month, Tom Appleton, president and CEO of Piaggio America, told AIN at press time that the announcement was “premature” and the companies are still working out the details.