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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.
Piaggio's chief engineer, Alessandro Mazzoni, filed in 1982 to patent the Avanti design. Beginning in 1983, Gates Learjet partnered with Piaggio to develop a fuselage for the new aircraft (referred to as Gates Piaggio GP-180). Learjet's design influence can be seen in the steeply raked windshield and the two large ventral delta fins under the tail. At high angles of attack these delta fins provide a nose-down pitching moment and help to avoid a potential stall, and they increase stability in flight by damping yaw and Dutch roll.
Gates Learjet's financial problems ended their collaboration in January 1986, but Piaggio continued the project, and the first prototype flew on 23 September 1986. The P.180 Avanti received Italian certification on 7 March 1990 and American certification was obtained on 2 October 1990.
The first 12 fuselages were manufactured in Wichita, Kansas, with H & H Parts and Plessey Midwest, then flown to Italy for final assembly. Avanti Aviation Wichita ran out of money in 1994; the project languished until a group of investors led by Piero Ferrari became involved in 1998. The 100th aircraft was delivered in October 2005 and the 150th in May 2008. Piaggio reported that, as of October 2010, the Avanti and Avanti II fleets had logged over 500,000 flying hours.
An improved Avanti II obtained European and U.S. certification in November 2005. Six months later, 70 planes had been ordered, including 36 by Avantair. Avanti II received type approval for Russia in 2011. The Avanti II featured uprated Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66Bturboprop engines and flies about 18 km/h (11 mph) faster, with better fuel economy; and an all-new "glass panel" avionics suite from Rockwell Collins reduced cockpit clutter. In addition to heading, attitude and navigation information, flat panel color liquid crystal displays add collision avoidance (TCAS), ground proximity (TAWS) and real-time graphic weather depiction.
The Avanti is marketed as being faster than other turboprops and many midsized jets, with cost efficiency as much as 40 percent better than market-competing jets, as a result of less drag and a lower fuel burn rate. Powered by the same Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66 engines as the Beechcraft King Air B200, the Avanti II is 100 knots (190 km/h) faster than that model King Air.Flying magazine judged the Avanti to be the "Fastest Civilian Turboprop Twin" in 2014, saying "Avanti's speed is pretty much on par with Cessna's M2, while providing more space and a lower operating cost."
First flown in 2013, the P.1HH UAV prototype crashed off Sicily in May 2016 after 100h of flight tests, a second prototype flew in July 2017 before two others joined.
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.
On 21 June 2019, the Italian government committed to EUR716 million in orders to make the business more attractive to a potential buyer: EUR260 million from the defence ministry for nine new Avanti Evos, plus an upgrade of 19 earlier aircraft; EUR200 million for engine maintenance; EUR160 million for the P1HH HammerHead certification completion and at least one system (two aircraft and one ground station) acquisition; and EUR96 million for logistics support.
While the deals should be approved later, two aircraft had been delivered so far in 2019, and two more remain in the backlog.
Three non-binding expressions of interest to buy the aircraft business had been received, 10 for the engine business and 26 for the whole company.
The official tender for the sale of Piaggio Aerospace should start after the summer of 2019.
The Avanti's 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.
The Avanti's forward wing flaps deploy automatically with the main wing flaps to maintain neutral pitch trim.
The forward wing's angle of incidence is slightly greater than that of the main wing, so that it stalls before the main wing, producing an automatic nose-down effect prior to the onset of main wing stall; its five-degree anhedral (negative dihedral) keeps the stream wash interference clear of the engine inlets, the main wing and the tailplane.
Showing the continuously-varying curve of the fuselage cross-section and forward wing
The cabin cross-section varies continuously along the length of the aircraft; the shape approximates an NACA airfoil section, and the slowly changing curve helps prolong laminar flow on the front of the fuselage. Piaggio claims that the fuselage contributes up to 20% of the Avanti's total lift, with the front and rear wing providing the remaining 80%. Due to the unusual fuselage shape, the mid cabin is considerably wider than the cockpit. The front and rear airfoils are custom sections designed by Jerry Gregorek of Ohio State University's Aeronautical and Astronautical Research Laboratory to achieve a drag-reducing 50% laminar flow at cruise. The company claims the overall design of the P180 Avanti II enables the wing to be 34% smaller than on conventional aircraft.
The P180 is said to have good fuel efficiency relative to small turbojets flying in the same speed and altitude range. Flight International stated: "The Avanti has no direct turboprop competitors, its closest jet rivals are the Raytheon Premier I and the Cessna Citation CJ2+ ... Piaggio says low-drag laminar flow is maintained to around 50% of the wing chord, compared with around 20-25% for conventional tractor turboprops where propeller wash disturbs the airflow over the wing... specific air range at high altitude is 3.4 km/kg (0.84nm/lb) compared with around 2 km/kg (0.49nm/lb) for current jets or 2.7 km/kg (0.67nm/lb) for other turboprops." By this estimate, mileage is 70% better per fuel unit than comparable jet aircraft, although this greater efficiency is achieved only at a relatively slow 315 KTAS and FL410. P180 Avanti II Specifications now show slightly lower numbers for specific range of 3.1 km/kg (0.76 nm/lb).
Interior noise is lower than conventional turboprop aircraft, because the propellers and engine exhausts are behind the cabin. Piaggio quotes 68 dBA. However, due to the strongly disturbed flow in which the pusher propellers operate, the exterior noise is higher. The exterior noise level and its higher pitched sound has been shown to be the result primarily of the interaction of the turbine engine exhaust flows and the five-bladed pusher propellers (est. +9 dB). On takeoff, the Avanti has been measured at 81.9 dBA sideline noise level, slightly lower than the Beechcraft King Air at 82.8 dBA. This is below FAA stage 3 noise limits, which set a maximum of 89 EPNdB for takeoff. However, the P180 has been the subject of noise complaints at airports, such as Aspen-Pitkin County Airport in Colorado as well as Naples Municipal Airport, Florida, where that airport authority determined it was the noisiest aircraft using the facility. Alan Parker, chairman of the Naples Municipal Airport Authority's technical committee, described the Avanti as "irritating loud" and compared the high pitched sound "to fingernails on a chalkboard".
The Piaggio P.180 Avanti has a sea level, standard day, maximum gross weight takeoff distance of 869 m (2,851 ft) and a landing roll of 872 m (2,861 ft).
Deliveries were at a high of 30 in 2008, but only two in 2013.
In 2014 Piaggio announced development of an updated version, called 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; 2,040 miles). The company predicts improved climb performance, 250 nm 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. Although projected purchase price was in the $7.4 million range, by May 2017 the actual price was approximately $7.7 million. The first EVO was delivered in April 2015, with five more to follow the same year.
Two Avantis leaving assembly for testing
First production variant.
Military version with a combination passenger/freighter configuration for use as a VIP and light utility transport.
Variant with 400kt TAS and higher useful load.
Multirole Patrol Aircraft (MPA)
Initially called Maritime Patrol Aircraft, MPA is a variant of the Avanti II with a larger wingspan and bigger fuel tanks. As with the EVO propulsion system, MPA uses more powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66B engines and Hartzell five-blade scimitar propellers. MPA electronics include the Albatros mission mystem from Saab Group and Pro Line Fusion avionics from Rockwell Collins.
The Italian Air Force signed an agreement with Piaggio Aerospace to buy three Unmanned Aerial System P.1HH HammerHead (six aircraft and three ground control stations) with delivery starting from the early months of 2016.United Arab Emirates Air Force ordered eight P.1HH aircraft. On 31 May 2016 the first P.1HH prototype crashed off the Sicilian coast, delaying flight testing for thirteen months during construction of a second prototype. Piaggio flew the second prototype at Trapani-Birgi military airport on 5 July 2017 The UAE was to take delivery of six P.1HHs in 2018 and the remaining two in 2019, however by November 2018, no P.1HHs had been delivered and Piaggio Aerospace requested to be placed into receivership.
Piaggio develops with Leonardo, the Italian and UAE Armed Forces a P.1HH successor for 2023, with a new wing, more composite materials, and re-thought systems. With a larger wing and airframe, maximum endurance rose to 30h, but following the 2018 Italian election, the country's EUR766 million program for 20 aircraft and 10 control stations was suspended.
The Avanti is operated by charter companies and small feeder airlines, and is also used as a business aircraft. The fractional aircraft operatorAvantair was Piaggio's largest client, with a fleet of 57 Avanti aircraft, before they went bankrupt and the fleet was liquidated.
In May 2017, 220 aircraft were in operation around the world, with 89 being first-generation Avanti, 126 second-generation Avanti II and 6 Avanti EVO models.
^Weiner, Eric (5 June 1989). "Innovative Plane Making Its Debut". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 20 December 2017. Retrieved 2017. Like the Starship, the Piaggio Avanti features a canard and rear-mounted engines. But the Avanti is made mostly of aluminum, not composites. It weighs thousands of pounds less than the Starship and is about 60 m.p.h. faster.
^"Dr. Jan Roskam Project Advisor". DARcorp. Design, Analysis and Research Corporation. Archived from the original on 18 February 2017. Retrieved 2017. Jan Roskam managed the low speed and transonic speed windtunnel programs for the SIAI Marchetti S-211 and Piaggio 180-Avanti.
^Roskam, Jan (2002). Roskam's airplane war stories : an account of the professional life and work of Dr. Jan Roskam, airplane designer and teacher. Lawrence, Kan: DARcorporation. pp. 195-198. ISBN9781884885570.
^"Dr. Alessandro Mazzoni". M3 Aviation Inc. Archived from the original on 25 April 2017. Retrieved 2017. As Director of Engineering for I.A.M. Rinaldo Piaggio from 1974 to 1991, he designed the P.180 Avanti, and is the US Patent holder (4746081) for the Three Lifting Surface Configuration (3LSC) aircraft.
^US patent D280892, Mazzoni, Alessandro, "Aircraft ornamental design", published 1982-06-10, issued 1985-10-08, assigned to Rinaldo Piaggio S.p.A.
^"Avanti doubts composite benefit"(PDF). Flight International. 12 October 1985. Archived(PDF) from the original on 3 September 2017. Retrieved 2017. It is manufactured using techniques 'unique' to an aircraft of its size, according to Ronald Neal, the manager who heads Gates Learjet's involvement with the aircraft, currently limited to fuselage construction.
^De'Pompeis, Roberto; Cinquetti, Paolo; Martini, P.I. Sergio (1 April 1991). "Development and Certification Flight Test on the Piaggio P.180 Avanti Aircraft: A General Overview". SAE Technical Paper. SAE Technical Paper Series. 1. doi:10.4271/911003.
^George, Fred (October 2010). "Piaggio P180 Avanti II". Aviation Week. p. 40. Archived from the original on 7 June 2017. Retrieved 2017. Perhaps its greatest asset is being the world's most eco-friendly, twin-turbine business aircraft.
^Goyer, Robert (19 April 2012). "Piaggio P.180 Avanti II". Flying. Archived from the original on 9 June 2017. Retrieved 2017. Think of the Avanti II as a jet with props and you'll be close to the mark...
^Berlin, Jeff (1 March 2008). "Ciao, Avanti". Plane & Pilot. Madavor Media. Archived from the original on 15 July 2017. Retrieved 2017.
^Gregorek, Gerald (1 September 2007). "A Word From the Doctor". Aviation Week. Archived from the original on 15 March 2018. Retrieved 2017. The Avanti was one of the highlights of my career. The laminar flow airfoils were very clean sheet. I think they were the first of the new breed of laminar flow airfoils that demonstrated high performance at transonic speeds.
^Urquhart, Janet (9 September 2011). "Aspen airport gets earful about noisy airplane". Aspen Times. Archived from the original on 12 December 2017. Retrieved 2017. Operation of the P180 has climbed onto lists maintained by the airport, which tracks noise events and noise complaints, though the aircraft is actually quieter, in terms of decibels, than some private jets, according to Paul Dunholter, noise consultant for the airport. It's the pitch that's noticeable.
^Osborne, Tony (18 February 2013). "Piaggio Reveals Unmanned Avanti". Aviation Week. Archived from the original on 3 September 2017. Retrieved 2017. The Hammerhead will be controlled from mission control stations produced by Selex, with line of sight and beyond line of sight using satellite communications.