Piaggio And Avantair Contract For 36 Aircraft

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Piaggio America and Avantair last month inked a deal calling for 36 of the distinctive Italian-made Piaggio Avanti II aircraft to be delivered to the fractional operator beginning in 2008 and continuing through 2010. The deal is worth more than $230 million and represents the largest single order in the airframer's history. "The demand for Avanti II aircraft continues to increase and this agreement will assure Avantair of a steady stream of aircraft for its fractional fleet through 2010, said Tom Appleton, Piaggio America president and CEO. The first Piaggio P.180 Avanti production model flew in May 1990, and was certified in October 1990. The first Avanti II was certified in October 2005, and is scheduled to be delivered in early 2006. The Avanti II features enhanced avionics, engines, speed, payload and cabin comfort.

The new model's flight deck includes the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics suite featuring three 10-by-8-inch LCDs, the FMS 3000 flight management system and the AHS 3000 attitude heading reference system. Other upgrades include Pratt & Whitney PT6A-66B engines, which are expected to add 12 knots or more to high-speed cruise. The Avanti II has a maximum cruise speed of 398 knots and is capable of flying 1,800 nm; its ceiling is FL410. The Avanti II also features an increase in maximum zero fuel weight, from 9,500 lbs. to 9,800 lbs., maximum takeoff weight from 11,550 lbs. to 12,050 lbs., and reduced empty weight. This increases the useful load by one to two passengers at longer ranges. Some Avanti II enhancements will eventually be made available for retrofit on the existing fleet.