Piaggio announced at EBACE the first sale of a P.180 Avanti Evo to the UK market. The Italian airframer is also promoting at the show its recently certificated enlarged Avanti door option which is aimed at the medevac market.
Since entering service in 2015, Piaggio has shipped seven Evos. The undisclosed UK customer is scheduled to take delivery of its twin-pusher turboprop in the fourth quarter.
Piaggio is hoping to drum up sales of the Evo in the medevac market with its new enlarged door – which is 5in (13cm) wider than the baseline configuration. Andrea Di Fede, head of the company’s customer service business unit, says the feature is specially designed for these types of missions and will allow easier and more direct loading of stretchers into the aircraft.
He says the company has found some success in this niche sector with more 10% of the 220 global in-service Avanti inventory already equipped for medevac services. “Two of our fleet leaders – France’s Oyonnair and Air Ambulance Worldwide of the US – are medevac operators, which is testament to the versatility of the Avanti,” he says.
Lyon-based Oyannair is Piaggio’s largest air ambulance customer in Europe with a fleet of five aircraft. Its deputy chief executive, Natalie Chaillou, says: “We also offer VIP charter, but 80% of our hours are flown on medevac missions and last year that totaled around 3,000h. We took delivery of three units in 2015 and two last year. There is plenty of demand for the Avantis but we will wait a while before deciding whether to expand the fleet."