Piaggio boosts prospects of P180 Avanti in five-year industrial plan

The prospects for Piaggio Aerospace’s beleaguered P180 Avanti Evo business aircraft have been boosted by a new, strategic five-year industrial plan, announced by the Italian airframer in December 2017 and designed to secure its long-term financial and operational stability.

The strategy includes a €255 million ($308 million) cash injection into the business by Piaggio Aerospace's Abu Dhabi-based owner, Mubadala. The investment house – which took full ownership of the Villanova D’Albenga-headquartered venture in 2015 – will also repurchase the company’s bank debt, with the balance converted into equity “in support of Piaggio Aerospace’s balance sheet”.

Piaggio chief executive Renato Vaghi describes the industrial plan as “transformational”. He says: “It lays the foundation to deliver long-term security built around our core programmes, while creating opportunities for growth in new areas of development."

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Piaggio Aerospace

These include the creation of what Piaggio calls a “new production and commercialisation strategy for the P180 twin-engined turboprop, including the assessment of potential partner opportunities”. While the company does not elaborate further on its strategy for the business aircraft, or disclose what form these partnerships might take, its plan confirms that the twin-pusher is in dire need of a strategic reboot.

The programme has been severely affected by the protracted downturn in the global business aircraft market. Flight Fleets Analyzer records only six deliveries of the latest iteration of the P180, the Evo, since it entered service in 2015. No shipments were recorded in the first nine months of 2017, and Piaggio will not disclose the year-end delivery tally, nor the size of its orderbook.

Piaggio has shifted its focus in recent years to special-mission variants of the platform – a multirole patrol aircraft and the P.1HH HammerHead unmanned air vehicle. Scheduled to enter service in 2018, the UAV has been singled out by Piaggio in its five-year industrial plan for “increased focus”.

The strategy also includes strengthening the existing industrial relationship with fellow Italian aerospace company Leonardo, covering the defence and security sectors, and the sale of Piaggio’s remaining engines and civil aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul activities.