Piaggio Given Green Light To Restart Production

 - April 30, 2019, 7:56 AM

Having secured agreement from the Italian government on April 24 on a plan to turn around the company, Italy's Piaggio Aerospace on April 30 confirmed it has now invited expressions of interest in its effort to find a buyer.

“We want to begin exploring the demand in the market to better understand those who are currently potentially interested,” the company said, adding it had placed a notice in a number of financial newspapers “following authorization from the ministry of economic development.”

Expressions of interest are due to be received by Vincenzo Nicastro, the government-appointed "extraordinary commissioner" who is overseeing the administration process, by May 15, 2019.

The plan agreed on April 24, in a meeting chaired by the Italian government and including representatives of local authorities and trade unions, will see production of the Piaggio Avanti Evo restart while work will resume on securing certification of the P.1HH Hammerhead, an unmanned maritime reconnaissance version of the Avanti.

Nicastro said the April 24 agreement “represents a first concrete step for the relaunch of the company and will allow it to present itself as an attractive opportunity for potential buyers.”

The plan also “foresees new contracts for the engine maintenance with a ten-year plan; a contract for the retrofitting of nineteen P.180-Avanti operated by various Italian Institutions; and the purchase of ten new P.180-Avanti.

"Finally, the plan also includes the completion of the P.1HH HammerHead certification process, along with the subsequent acquisition of two systems and the development of further technology to support Piaggio Aerospace to compete in the international market arena. Each system is made out of a Ground Control Station and two aircraft. More systems would be acquired in the medium-term."

The statement added that the long-term objective is to have capabilities in the company for developing further technology linked to the guidelines of the Ministry of Defense. This will allow the company to re-enter systems-design activity at a European level, in particular, the European medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV project.

The government said almost all workers would re-acquire their jobs, but would initially be placed on laid-off status, starting May 2. In addition, once production is restarted the commissioner will be tasked with identifying an industrial partner. The statement added that the Ministry of Defence has confirmed it will comply with the timelines required to see the execution of contracts and work orders in progress, concerning the aircraft built by the company.

In April, the company was still trying to sell P.180 Avanti Evo turboprop twins while administrators looked for a buyer for the company, which went into insolvency after its owner Mubadala, of the UAE, canceled its P.1HH Hammerhead order. On December 3, the Italian government appointed Nicastro, a lawyer, as extraordinary receiver to temporarily manage Piaggio.

The Italian government pledged €250 million ($280 million) to complete the final stage of the P.1HH program, including €180 million to procure eight Hammerheads and four ground stations. There are some 37 government-owned Avantis, some of which need replacement, and efforts are being made to promote new aircraft sales for the Italian Air Force, coast guard, and police.