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EBACE: Piaggio just weeks from freezing jet design

Piaggio is just weeks from agreeing the final design of its new P1XX jet, and announcing the first tranche of systems and structures suppliers, new managing director Eligio Trombetta confirmed at the show.

"Our objective is to freeze the design by the middle of the year and to consolidate our industrial solution and supply chain," he said. The Italian airframer will adopt a more "vertical approach" than on its P180 Avanti II twin-pusher turboprop, with risk-sharing partners building "some significant structural segments of the aircraft".

Although the former Alenia Aermacchi executive will not confirm it, partners could include Strata in Al Ain. The aerostructures start-up is owned by Piaggio's one-third shareholder Mubadala and is a key plank in the Abu Dhabi investment vehicle's strategy to create an aerospace sector in the Gulf emirate. Piaggio's other main shareholder is Tata of India, which has led to speculation that its businesses could also be involved in the programme.

Mubadala has said it intends eventually to assemble a business jet in Abu Dhabi. Trombetta said final assembly of the P1XX would be at Piaggio's factory in Genoa, although "we would consider a second assembly line if demand justified it".

Trombetta added: "We have two shareholders that complement each other and want to see improvement in our industrial performance. But they are not like an investment bank looking at the short-term horizon. They are looking at the long run. For us, being Italian, having two international shareholders has been very different culturally, but it has been a good learning exercise. Mubadala and Tata provide a lot of connections."

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