Piaggio Aerospace on Monday received initial European approval for its new Avanti Evo twin turboprop, with certification from the FAA and Indian authorities to follow. The first two aircraft are being delivered to separate Indian customers and are due to be handed over before the end of this month. The third aircraft is for a U.S. customer, and the fourth for one in Europe.
Italy-based Piaggio has orders for 16 Evos so far. The company is owned by Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Aerospace.
“The Avanti Evo is an intelligent solution for business travellers, blending the very best of Italian style and the most advanced aerodynamic concepts, giving operators and passengers more efficiency than ever before,” Piaggio Aero CEO Carlo Logli said here at MEBA 2014 on Tuesday.
Piaggio (Stand 942) began flight trials with the prototype Evo aircraft in spring 2013, and the aircraft made its first public appearance at the Farnborough air show in July. That aircraft is being retained by the company for development. A production Avanti EVO is to appear at the EBACE show in Geneva in May, and possibly at February’s Aero India show at Bangalore.
Evo is the third generation of the stylish Italian twin turboprop, and introduces a host of features that improve performance and comfort, as well as making the aircraft a good neighbour. The aircraft has revised aerodynamics with main-wing winglets and redesigned front wingtips. Cruising speed is 403 knots and maximum cruise range is extended to 1770 nm, while climb rate is increased by 10 percent. At the same time, service ceiling is increased to 41,000 ft, while take-off and landing distances are reduced.
Internal and external noise levels are also reduced, thanks to new patented exhaust stacks fitted to the Pratt & Whitney PT6A-66B engines and the Hartzell low-rpm five-bladed scimitar propellers. Fitted with Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics, the Avanti Evo also introduces a new interior with Iacobucci HF seats and outfitted by Poltrona Frau. Shortly to be introduced is a low-maintenance undercarriage with anti-skid braking and digital steering.
From early summer next year Avanti Evos will be delivered from Piaggio’s new facility at Villanova d’Albenga in northern Italy. Until now the aircraft have been built in two separated facilities at Finale Ligure and Genoa. Transfer to the plant began in September, and the Finale factory is to close down this month, with Genoa following in the spring. Piaggio’s customer service office will remain at Genoa’s main airport.
While the Evo becomes the standard production model, Piaggio retains the ability to produce the Avanti II for special requests, such as for existing customers wishing to maintain commonality across their fleet. Piaggio has recently sold an Avanti II for photo-survey work to the Royal Thai Air Force.
The Evo’s new cabin “comfort package” is likely to be made available to Avanti II operators as a retrofit, also.
With certification of the Evo now achieved, the company is now focusing on two military derivatives, the unmanned P.1HH HammerHead unmanned ISR platform, which is due to be certified next year, and the MPA multirole patrol aircraft with extended wings and larger fin. Due for approval in 2016, the MPA should begin development flying in late 2015.