The United Arab Emirates air force has selected the Piaggio P180 Avanti II as part of a fleet expansion programme, which includes two of the business aircraft for use as light multi-utility aircraft.
The Italian turboprop has been chosen following an extensive evaluation process that took into consideration characteristics and performance of several aircraft in the same class, as well as reliability, cost-effectiveness and operational flexibility.
Piaggio Aero - part owned by Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala - will also supply a complete integrated logistics support package, including training for pilots and technicians.
Piaggio chief executive Alberto Galassi says: "The selection of the P180 by the UAE represents a huge success for the Italian high-tech industry and confirms the value of the Avanti II as an advanced multi-utility aircraft. Our company has taken the decision to invest in the development of special multipurpose configurations, and this decision provides a positive outcome for our investment."
The Avanti will support a diverse mission requirement in the Gulf, including fast transport of specialised staff, a primary necessity for tactical and technical co-ordination; and medical evacuation and fast sanitary transport of patients, with the possibility of checking on the patient's condition during the transfer as well as giving efficient first aid assistance.
To meet this requirement, the two Avanti IIs will be equipped with an ambulance kit that, through a quick reconfiguration, allows the aircraft to become an efficient air ambulance unit. The aircraft provides outstanding accessibility for patient loading, and its spacious cabin offers a work-friendly environment for medical staff.
The Avanti II has a range of more than 2,400km (1,300nm), a maximum speed of 402kt (745km/h) and a maximum operating ceiling of 41,000ft (12,500m). These performances can be compared with those of a turbojet aircraft, though the Avanti II's operating costs are at least 33% lower. It also has a large stand-up cabin that, together with its flexibility of use and multiplicity of installed equipment, satisfies the variety of the UAE air force's needs.