NBAA: Piaggio looks to launch jet at EBACE 2011

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Piaggio plans to formally announce its long-awaited jet and to unveil program partners and suppliers at next May's EBACE show in Geneva, Flight Evening News can exclusively reveal.

The Italian airframer - which manufactures the P180 Avanti II twin-pusher turboprop - has remained tight-lipped about its ambitions to develop a jet since revealing its P1XX project several years ago.

However, the plans have been given a boost following the financial injection by the Genoa company's two main shareholders, Abu Dhabi investment house Mubadala and Indian industrial giant Tata.

"The program is continuing very well and we will look to make an announcement on suppliers at EBACE by which time we hope to have contracts done," Piaggio America president John Bingham told Flight Evening News .

A number of Italian aerostructure specialists are working on the design and the new Mubadala-owned Strata composites plant in Abu Dhabi is certain to play a role in the program.

Mubadala has strongly hinted that the Piaggio jet will be assembled in the desert emirate, stating that Abu Dhabi wants to to build its first business aircraft by 2018 as the culmination of its aerospace development strategy.

Piaggio is also developing a special mission version of the P180 and is recruiting 60 engineers for the project.