Rolls-Royce Turbomeca has brought Piaggio Aero Industries into the RTM322 engine programme, as part of a campaign to undermine Italy's commitment to the General Electric T700-T6E1 as the powerplant for its NH90 buy.

"We are pushing hard to convince the Italian Government the RTM322 is better for them," says Rolls-Royce Turbomeca international marketing manager Keith Reid. At stake is Italy's $300 million order for engines for its 196 NH Industries NH90 helicopters.

Genova-based Piaggio, which in its earlier incarnation as Rinaldo Piaggio was an original RTM 322 partner, dropped out after going into receivership. The company is now owned by an investor group.

Under the new agreement, Piaggio says it will get an 8.5% share in worldwide engine production, and "up to 65%" of any Italian engine order. The parts manufacturing will be done at Piaggio's Finale Ligure plant.

"The impression we got from briefing the Italian industry ministry was that there had almost been a pre-selection on the basis of the T700 [for the NH90]," says Reid. "I think we have brought to their attention issues which warrant looking at the engine again."

• Piaggio is planning to step up production of its P180 twin turbprop business aircraft from one to two units a month by 2001. The company says 12 aircraft will be delivered this year. Plans for 2001 envisage 22 deliveries, with 26 the following year.

Source: Flight International