Piaggio Aerospace Outlines New Five-year Plan

 - December 27, 2017, 12:11 PM
Piaggio is reiterating its commitment to the civil aviation sector, for which it manufactures the Piaggio Evo. (Photo: Mark Wagner)

The board of Italy’s Piaggio Aerospace has approved a new strategic industrial plan that will cover the next five years and will, according to the Vollanova d’Abenga-based company, “secure the long-term financial and operational stability of the business.”

The plan is based on two main pillars: comprehensive financial restructuring and “operational commitments and developments.” The former will include a £255 million ($342 million) cash injection by Mubadala Investment Company “to support Piaggio Aerospace’s financial needs” combined with a “total bank debt repurchase and conversion to equity by the shareholder in support of Piaggio Aerospace’s balance sheet.”

On the operational side, there are four key elements: an “increased focus” on the P.1HH Hammerhead MALE (medium-altitude long-endurance) UAV, first deliveries of which are due to take place during 2018; a strengthening of the existing industrial relationship with fellow Italian aerospace company Leonardo, covering the defense and security sectors; the development of a “new production and commercialization strategy” for the P.180 business turboprop, “including the assessment of potential partner opportunities;” and, finally, the sale of Piaggio’s engines and civil aviation MRO activities.

Piaggio confirmed that “key stakeholders” supported the plan, including the Italian government and the Italian Air Force, along with the company’s sole shareholder, Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala.

Piaggio Aerospace CEO Renato Vaghi commented, “The industrial plan will be transformational…and lays the foundation to deliver long-term security built around our core programs, while creating opportunities for growth in new areas of development.”

Vaghi said, “This plan is a combined achievement for Piaggio Aerospace and its key stakeholders: our employees and union representatives; our shareholder; our strategic partners such as Leonardo; the national and regional government; and the Italian Air Force.”

Piaggio has had a difficult recent history. In September 2015 Mubadala became 100 percent owner of the company, but this was some 17 years after the UAE company headed a consortium to rescue the Italian OEM from bankruptcy.

Then last year, it was forced to reassure the business aviation sector that it was still committed to the P.180 Avanti twin-turboprop pusher, especially having launched the Evo upgraded version, after it stated 17 months ago that the primary focus of its new industrial plan would be military programs.

Deliveries of P.180s have gradually dwindled to a handful a year, and there were concerns about support, according to operators contacted by AIN in 2016. This was exacerbated after the company appeared to indicate it was about to walk away from the civil aerospace sector. The latest plan indicates divestment of the company’s remaining engines and MRO businesses, while this time supporting renewed focus on Avanti production and support.