Piaggio not yet ready to launch jet

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Piaggio is not planning to launch its twin-engined jet programme this year after determining market conditions are still not ideal to unveil a mock-up and start sales.

The Italian manufacturer, which now produces the Avanti II twin-pusher, has been working on its P1XX jet project since at least 2006 but has not yet formally launched the programme. John Bingham, the chief executive of Piaggio's US unit, says a study it recently commissioned on the business jet market gave Piaggio "a very good picture" of the best time to launch sales of its jet, begin test flights and enter service. He declines to reveal the launch date recommended by this study but says the launch will definitely not be in 2010.

Bingham says Piaggio is well advanced with the design, but there is no point launching an aircraft when demand is depressed. Bingham told Flightglobal earlier this year it was "well into discussions" with potential P1XX suppliers. Bingham now says "we're in good conversations with suppliers with all aspects of the aircraft" and Piaggio is evaluating a "few different options" for the engine.

piaggio
 © Piaggio
Piaggio currently only produces the Avanti II twin-pusher 

He adds: "We've continued to develop the jet throughout the recession. We haven't slowed development down at all. We're on plan. We can launch the jet whenever the market conditions are right."

Bingham says the delay in launching the programme has given Piaggio more time to work on the aircraft's details and "make sure the aircraft we bring to market is absolutely the market leader".

He says there are some indications the business aircraft market will start picking up later this year, but the recovery curve is not likely to be as steep as previous recoveries. If there is a steeper than expected recovery in the next six to 12 months, Bingham says "we'll be in a position to take advantage of it".

Meanwhile, Bingham says Piaggio continues to evaluate potential improvements to the Avanti but it has no plans to launch the rumoured Avanti III.