Italian manufacturer tries to put troubled past behind it as it plans improvements to P180 Avanti pusher turboprop

Piaggio Aero Industries has begun a promotional campaign to stimulate sales of its P180 Avanti pusher turboprop in Europe, to be followed by expansion into the Middle East later this year. The move comes as the manufacturer is about to embark on avionics and cabin upgrades to boost sales of the seven-seater.


The European push comes on the back of a marketing and sales drive in the USA, the largest market for the P180. This has included the company forming a dedicated marketing subsidiary, Piaggio America, and establishing a network of distribution and service centres throughout the region.

Piaggio vice president sales and marketing Massimo Isidori says: "We have begun to establish ourselves as a player in the US business aircraft market, which we expect to account for around 60% of our aircraft sales. We are now targeting the aircraft at other [key] regions where we anticipate a strong response."

Piaggio will focus on European markets with the highest growth potential, notably France, Germ-any, Ireland, Switzerland and the UK, and has recently appointed Sloane Aviation to sell, promote and support the P180 in Ireland and the UK. The Genoa-based manufacturer is also set to appoint Air Alpha as its agent for Scandinavia and is eyeing suitable partners in the Middle East, where a similar promotional campaign is set for launch at the Dubai air show in November.

Piaggio admits securing sales of the $4.9 million P180 has been hindered by the company's track record. In its previous incarnation, Rinaldo Piaggio, the manufacturer ended up bankrupt after only being able to deliver 30 aircraft.

Isidori admits that, despite new management, a number of flight departments are fearful that the revived programme will suffer the same fate as before. He says: "We have lost a generation of owners as a result of the previous ownership and we have got to get them back by convincing them that we have a solid product and a strong support network."

To stimulate fresh interest in the P180, for which it has 20 orders, Piaggio is seeking to upgrade the aircraft's Rockwell Collins avionics flight deck suite with either the Collins ProLine or Honeywell Primus Epic packages. A decision could be made as early as September's National Business Aviation Association Convention in New Orleans. Minor cabin upgrades are also being studied to enhance "passenger comfort".

Isidori says the company is also studying new business aircraft variants including a jet-powered and stretched version of the P180, although no details are available.

Source: Flight International