Piaggio Aero Industries (Genoa, Italy) launched the Avanti EVO, an upgraded version of its Avanti II twin turboprop aircraft, at the 2014 European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE, May 20-24 Geneva, Switzerland).
The EVO builds on the well-known Avanti P.180 platform which features a patented three lifting surface configuration. A forward wing (not a true canard because it lacks control surfaces) is equipped with high lift devices that move together with the main wing flaps. The high aspect ratio main wing features laminar flow over 50 percent of the wing chord. The fuselage is also described as contributing to laminar flow, and reportedly contributes 20 percent of the aircraft’s lift, while the overall design allows the size of both the horizontal stabilizer and the main wing to be smaller. The push configuration of the propellers prevents propeller turbulence from interfering with wing aerodynamics, which lowers total drag and reportedly provides performance that is significantly higher than in aircraft with pull propellers.
The aircraft is roughly 90 percent aluminum alloy by weight with the remainder composites, including carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CRFP) in high-stress areas. The all-composite nacelles for the above-wing mounted engines are manufactured by Moreggia (Torino, Italy).
Piaggio Aero claims the EVO will be the world’s fastest turboprop, with a maximum speed of 402 knots while offering fuel economy and emissions levels significantly below that of rival aircraft. Airframe improvements including winglets, redesigned nacelles, and a reshaped front wing to help boost efficiency and cut emissions by 3 percent and increase climb performance by 3 percent. New five-blade scimitar composite propellers act together with aerodynamic changes to drop external noise by 68 percent, equivalent to 5 dB(A). Passenger comfort is also improved thanks to a 20 percent cut in internal noise, roughly 1 dB(A).
Alberto Galassi, Chairman of Piaggio Aero Industries said, "The new Avanti EVO represents excellence and provides everything business aviation requires to meet the increasing demands on time that prevail today. It improves performance and delivers more for our customers but with even greater efficiencies, all combined with our unbeatable Italian style. It marks an historical moment under the new ownership of Mubadala, and vividly displays its commitment to Piaggio Aero and our aircraft, and investment in major new production facilities."
With a 2014 list price of $7,395,000, the Avanti EVO has reportedly secured three orders. One is in the U.S., and Piaggio expects FAA approval to follow soon after that from EASA. A prototype with the EVO’s redesigned engine nacelles and propellers flew in Spring 2013, followed by testing of the winglets in the fall. Many of the certification requirements have been completed, and with only a small number of elements remaining, Piaggio said debut of the first EVO might be possible at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Convention (Oct. 21-23, 2014 Orlando, Fla., USA). Production of the Avanti EVO will be at Piaggio’s new state-of-the-art factory at Villanova d’Albenga, due to open in August.
Piaggio Aero designs, develops, constructs and maintains aircraft, aero-engines and aircraft structural components. It has a subsidiary in the United States, Piaggio America, located at West Palm Beach, Florida. Although formed in 1998, the company is actually one of the world’s oldest airplane manufacturers, being revived out of the celebrated Rinaldo Piaggio company originally established in 1915. A shareholder since 2006, Mubadala Development Company (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) acquired majority shares and corporate control in 2014.