Michael Schumacher's win at Magny Cours on Sunday, giving him a record-equalling fifth world drivers' championship, was good news for the Piaggio Aero team.

The Italian manufacturer of the Avanti P180, saved from the brink of bankruptcy in the late Eighties by Piero Ferrari and his team, continues to use a Ferrari-branded aircraft in its sales and marketing strategy.



That aircraft will be in Farnborough during the next week although it is its un-liveried brother that visitors to the show can visit at the static park. The Ferrari aircraft will be conducting customer demonstrations out of the TAG airfield.

"It's fantastic having world champion Michael Schumacher associated with the brand," says Massimo Isidori, vice-president Aircraft Sales, Europe and Middle East from the tan-leather comfort of the Avanti here at the show. "Ralf Schumacher flew an Avanti for a couple of years – until he could afford to trade up!"

Piaggio, which announced the sale – and four options – at EBACE in May, will deliver a second P180 to a UK-based energy company in September. It believes there is potential in the UK market despite its stated aim of achieving two-thirds to three-quarters of its future sales in the USA.

Of the 54 P180s currently in service, 30 are in Europe. The Genoa, Italy-based manufacturer has a further 30 aircraft on the order books with a current lead time of eight months.

Isidori, who says Piaggio has seen increased interest in the P180 since 11 September, expects some of the projected new business in Europe to come through fractional-type ownership. He says post-11 September he's been talking to a new type of customer, seeing interest from people and companies that wouldn't traditionally have owned business aircraft.

"We're investigating the fractional segment. There are a lot of things to look at and a whole range of options but we're talking to people who cannot deal with a whole aircraft; some of whom might want 150-200 flying hours a year. We're in contact with a range of potential customers."

The unmistakable twin-pusher turbo-prop with its barbell-esque front fins cruises at 400kt (40km/h).

Source: Flight Daily News