Italy's Piaggio Aero Industries has resumed production of its P.180 Avanti executive turboprop after a hiatus of six years. Chief executive Jose di Mase says the reconstituted company resumed deliveries in January and will have manufactured 12 units by the end of the year. Plans call for increased production levels to 22 units in 2001 and 26 by 2002 following the creation of a US-based international sales and marketing entity called Piaggio America. Heading this will be Stephan Hanvey, formerly with Raytheon. The relaunch follows acquisition of the company by a group of leading Italian investors including members of the Ferrari, Buttoni and Di Mase families. Chairman of the newly-assembled board is Piero Ferrari, a member of the Ferrari racing car dynasty and personal investor who, along with other backers, assumed liabilities totalling $40 million as part of the takeover deal.

The new owners are investing more than $35 million in plant improvements at Piaggio's two plants at Genoa and Finale Ligure in northwest Italy. The original workforce of 1,000 employees has been increased to 1,200, says Di Mase. "Turnover in 1999, the first year under new ownership, was $70 million, and we're looking for a 35% hike to $110 million in 2000," he says.

This will be underpinned by the company's other core activity in engine production. Piaggio currently manufactures and services turbojet and turboshaft engines under licence from Rolls-Royce and Honeywell/Allied Signal for use on civil and military aircraft and helicopters. It has also extended its participation in the NH90 military helicopter's RTM322 turboshaft engine.

Source: Flight Daily News