Piaggio unveils next Evo-lution of Avanti turboprop twin

Oct 12, 2021 - 7:00 AM

Piaggio Aerospace has just announced a host of upgrades for its P.180 Avanti Evo turboprop twin, including several major enhancements to aircraft components and systems, interior, and payload.

To start, a new high-power steel braking system, which is supplied by Parker and already available for retrofit on in-service Avantis through a supplemental type certificate (STC), has just received EASA approval under the aircraft type certificate, with other similar approvals pending. “The integration provides reduced certified landing distances and better reliability, and along with the anti-skid system brings an increased suitability for intense training use, together with lower equipment and maintenance costs,” said Antonio Sollo, chief technical officer and head of design organization at Piaggio Aerospace.

In addition, lithium-ion batteries are available on new-production Evos, according to Sollo. “The main and emergency batteries are manufactured by True Blue Power and use lithium-ion nano phosphate cell chemistry, which provides improved capacity and output voltage stability, together with shorter engine start time, as well as significant weight saving,” he said.

A Becker Avionics digital audio system will also be available soon for factory-new airplanes. “The new equipment implements a modern human machine interface [HMI] with a color display, bezel pushbuttons, and programmable softkeys tailored to aircraft configuration, improving audio management and growth capability,” according to Sollo.

Piaggio will also increase the Evo's maximum zero fuel weight (MZFW) to 10,200 pounds, up from 9,800 pounds. Sollo said this "improves the P.180 operational flexibility by allowing the increase of the payload by 400 pounds (equivalent to two passengers) while at the same time keeping the maximum takeoff weight unchanged,” said Sollo.

Meanwhile, the company is rolling out new cabin interiors, including updated design elements and improved lighting, that are slated for certification in the first quarter of next year.These will be an evolution of the current interiors; they will retain the already remarkable dimensions and volumes but they will come with an improved style and a general qualitative improvement guaranteed by the new supplier, Delta Interior Design,” said Sollo. “The new interiors will also have an updated cabin lighting system and a new cabin ‘smart’ digital system, improving lights control and providing USB ports at each seat.”

Future Upgrades

Piaggio expects several additional improvements to be certified in the third quarter of 2022, including a revamped environmental control system (ECS) and cabin pressurization system (CPCS), as well as a new satcom system. A flight inspection system (FIS) will also be available for special-mission Evos.

The upgraded, dual-zone digitally controlled ECS will be manufactured by Italy-based FIMAC. “The system provides an integrated, dual-zone flight deck and cabin air conditioning, with full manual and automatic control, improved cooling power, and an optimization of scoop and exhaust design for aerodynamic drag minimization,” said Sollo.

“A new high-voltage refrigerant compressor guarantees high cooling efficiency with reduced noise vibration harshness, and the updated design of cabin evaporators will improve the space availability in aero-ambulance configuration," he added.

Its new digitally controlled CPCS from Honeywell will be integrated with the Evo's avionics and flight management system, and it replaces most of the former static and pneumatic lines with electrical harnesses.

“The CPCS includes the three modes of operations: auto-schedule with automatic control of cabin altitude to a predefined schedule; cabin select with automatic control of cabin altitude to a crew set value; and manual,” according to Sollo. “It also performs all the functions of the legacy system, plus a Cabin Altitude Warning shift for high airfield operations. Particular effort has been put into HMI improvement during related control-panel development.”

Also from Honeywell is the new Aspire 150 satcom system. “It is based on Iridium Certus technology, and it leans on a recently launched fleet of 66 Iridium satellites, which guarantee high-performance bit rates with global coverage and large growth capabilities for standard phone calls, Wi-Fi, Skype/Whatsapp Audio VoIP calls, and video calls. The download bitrate is 700 kilobytes per second,” said Sollo.

Special-mission aircraft will be outfitted with a Norwegian Special Mission-manufactured FIS, whch Sollo described as the "latest-generation and fully automatic." He said this system allows the control of all communication, navigation, and surveillance [CNS] elements, ground navigation aids, and procedures for several inspection modes.

“The FIS primary workstation is equipped with two large touchscreen displays, portrait orientated, providing an optimized human-machine interface," Sollo noted. "The related aircraft provisions and installations are fully developed by Piaggio Aerospace and will be certified in parallel.”