Piaggio Aerospace yesterday resumed flight testing of its P.1HH HammerHead, more than 13 months after the first prototype of the unmanned air vehicle was destroyed in a crash off Sicily.
The Italian company says it flew the second prototype at Birgi military airport in Trapani, Sicily on 5 July, but does not provide further details of the sortie, or the planned flight test schedule.
Piaggio unveiled the medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV at the Paris air show in 2013 and has orders for eight examples from the United Arab Emirates. UAE state investment group Mubadala owns Piaggio.
Although Italy has not placed an order – only expressing "great interest" in the aircraft – it has been supporting the flight test effort by providing military facilities.
The original P.1HH – which is based on Piaggio's almost 30-year-old Avanti business turboprop platform and has a Leonardo-developed mission system – crashed 100h into its flight test programme on 31 May 2016.
Although Piaggio has been reluctant to publicly commit to a delivery date to the UAE, it now says that "completion of the system and first deliveries are planned in the course of 2018".
Villanova D’Albenga-based Piaggio has been branching away from its traditional reliance on business aviation and into what it sees as a more lucrative special mission market. It is developing a manned reconnaissance version of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-powered Avanti, called the Multirole Patrol Aircraft in partnership with Abu Dhabi Autonomous System Investments. Enhancements include a higher-rated PT6 engine and a Saab-developed mission control system, and two prototypes are planned.