The Italian Minister of Defence, Lorenzo Guerini, signed on Friday, October 1 a Decree for the purchase of six new P.180 Avanti EVO for the Italian Armed Forces. For a total amount of 171 million euros, the act also finances the supply of a P.180 full flight simulator and the extension of the maintenance contract for the “Viper” engines, which are fitted also on the aircraft of the National Aerobatic Team (“Frecce Tricolori”).
The Piaggio P.180 Avanti is an Italian executive transport aircraft with twin turboprop engines mounted in pusher configuration. It seats up to nine people in a pressurized cabin and may be flown by one or two pilots. The design is of three-surface configuration, having both a small forward wing and a conventional tailplane, as well as its main wing, with the main wing spars passing behind the passenger cabin area.
The Avanti’s counter-rotating turboprop engines are placed on a mid-set, high-aspect-ratio wing located just behind the cabin. The three-surface design incorporates both a T-tail and a pair of small, fixed forewings having slight anhedral and landing flaps. On the Avanti II these flaps automatically deploy in concert with the main wing flaps. This reduces the load on the tailplane, even when the flaps are deployed, by reducing the pitch-down moment created by the deployment of the main wing flaps. This in turn allows the size of both the tailplane and the main wing to be reduced. This particular three-lifting-surface configuration was patented in 1982.
“Fulfilling the Government’s commitment to supporting Piaggio Aerospace’s turnaround, this remarkable order further enhances the value of the Company, which is now close to finding a new owner”, commented Piaggio Aerospace’s Extraordinary Commissioner, Vincenzo Nicastro. “Notably, these six new aircraft bring the total order portfolio of the P.180, including private customers, to 20 units”.
In 2014 Piaggio announced development of an updated version, named EVO. It uses new Hartzell composite propellers, with blades of scimitar configuration. Its wings carry new winglets; aerodynamic improvements have been incorporated, and an additional 60-gallon (400 lb) fuel tank option to increase range to 1,770 nautical miles (3,280 kilometres). The company predicts improved climb performance, 250 nmi greater range, and 3% reduction in fuel usage. The revised propeller shape, combined with a lower engine speed, promises a 68% reduction in external noise. Avanti EVO type certification was granted by EASA on 28 November 2014, and by the FAA on 6 July 2015.
The first Avanti EVO manufactured at the new $150 million factory at Albenga Airport was delivered in 2016, one year after moving production from its previous Genoa Cristoforo Colombo Airport plant. Projected purchase price was $7.4 million in 2014. By November 2018, no P.1HHs were delivered to the UAE and the Italian Ministry of Defence €766 million support for the P.2HH program was frozen as populist coalition partner Five Star Movement prioritized social programmes over defence spending. By 2021 the equipped price was $7.695 million. The first EVO was delivered in April 2015, with five more to follow the same year.