Piaggio Aerospace has opened its new global headquarters at Villanova d’Albenga, around 80km (50 miles) southwest of Genoa.

The 127,000m2 (1,367,000ft2) facility houses a 49,000m2 plant dedicated the development and manufacturing of the airframer's P180 Avanti-based twin-turboprop programmes, as well as its engine component assembly business.

This new base replaces the Italian airframer’s more than 90-year-old plant in Finale Ligure, which becomes a dedicated service centre for the Avanti fleet.

Piaggio – a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi's state investment arm Mubadala – is developing three versions of the distinctive twin-pusher. The special missions variant, known as the multirole patrol aircraft, is earmarked for certification and service entry in 2016. Its unmanned air vehicle, the P1HH Hammerhead, is scheduled to enter service next year, while its third-generation civil P180 – the EVO – is expected receive European validation this month.

The $7.4 million EVO was launched in May as an upgrade to the nine-year-old Avanti II, which remains in production. The EVO features a revamped and quieter interior, enhanced safety features and increased performance, thanks to winglets, redesigned engine nacelles, a reshaped front wing and five-blade composite scimitar propellers.

Flight testing of the EVO began in February, and the test aircraft has so far clocked up around 100h, says Piaggio. “We hope to receive European approval this month and deliver up to four aircraft before the end of the year,” it adds.

Source: Flight International