Piaggio Aero Industries plans to deliver a P.180 Avanti twin-pusher business aircraft at the end of this month. The handover, to an unnamed customer, will mark the first sale of the turboprop since 1998, when the former Rinaldo Piaggio was renamed in the takeover by Turkey's Tushav group. Tushav owns Piaggio jointly with Aero Trust and other private Italian investors.

"We plan to build and deliver 16 aircraft this year, including two to the Greek Ministry of Health for emergency medical services operations, two to French aircraft operator Fox Air and nine to the Italian air force," says Piaggio.

The manufacturer has delivered 31 P.180s, mainly to government agencies, but only 10 aircraft in the past six years.

"We see a large market for the Avanti, especially in North America, which will account for more than 60% of our sales eventually," adds Piaggio.

Piaggio reintroduced the six-seat aircraft to the North American market last year in a bid to boost its fortunes there. To support and sustain its position, Piaggio wants to establish a network of sales, marketing and product support companies throughout the USA. Piaggio says: "We have two possibilities: to mate with an existing product support network or to establish our own."

Genoa Sestri-based Piaggio has improved the appearance of the 13-year-old design with a new vertical tail and foreplane, and replaced the carbonfibre structure with aluminium alloy.

Source: Flight International