Italian business aviation manufacturer Piaggio Aero is optimistic of securing an Australian order for the P180 Avanti in "a short time", says John Bingham, chief executive of Piaggio America and chief marketing officer of Piaggio Aero.

The manufacturer, which brought the aircraft to Avalon for the first time, secured Australian certification for the high-speed turboprop at the end of 2010.

"There's some very nice prospects here," says Bingham, pointing in particular to the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) - the Queensland and Western Operations sections of which have been evaluating the aircraft for a number of years. "We have good ongoing dialogue with the RFDS," he adds.

Avantair P180
 © Piaggio

The aircraft was previously demonstrated in Australia in 2009 when the manufacturer conducted a countrywide tour. Last year the Queensland and Western flying doctor sections also completed successful evaluation trials when the aircraft was put into service in full aeromedical configuration for a month. The type is already in operation in an aeromedical role in Italy, Poland and the USA.

Peter Randell, deputy general manager aviation at the Queensland section, says the P180 Avanti is in focus, but any decision is based on an aircraft replacement programme that is still two or three years away.

Piaggio believes the P180 is a good aircraft for Australia due to its fuel efficiency, low carbon footprint, 400kt (745km/h) speed, 1,500nm (2,770km) range and full stand-up cabin. The manufacturer is hopeful of three to four aircraft sales in the country in the first year, says Bingham.

Piaggio has appointed a local representative and is establishing customer support infrastructure in the country.

Eight Avantis are already flying in the Asia-Pacific region.

Source: Flight International