Piaggio P.180 Avanti
|First flight||26 September 1986|
|Introduction||30 September 1990|
Italian Armed Forces
AirGO Flugservice GmbH
|Number built||216 delivered as of November 2011|
US$ 7 million 
The Piaggio P180 Avanti is an Italian twin-engine turboprop aircraft produced by Piaggio Aero. It seats up to nine passengers in a pressurized cabin, and may be flown by one or two pilots. The design uses a small forward wing and a main wing combination that places the wing spars outside of the passenger cabin area. Although the front wing resembles a canard configuration, a conventional horizontal stabilizer on the tail provides longitudinal stability and pitch trim. It features a lifting laminar flow fuselage and has engines in pusher configuration.
Design studies began in 1979 and designs were tested in wind tunnels in Italy and the United States in 1980 and 1981. A collaboration with Learjet to develop the aircraft began in 1983 but ended on 13 January 1986, with Piaggio continuing development on its own. The first prototype flew on 23 September 1986. American and Italian certification was obtained on 2 October 1990. Learjet's influence can be seen in the two "delta fins" mounted on the bottom of the tail, as found on most Learjets; these devices help provide yaw stability and pitch stability at high angles of incidence.
The first 12 fuselages were manufactured in Wichita, 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 has reported that as of October 2010, the Avanti and Avanti II fleets have now logged over 500,000 flight 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. The Avanti II features uprated Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turboprop engines and flies about 18 km/h (11 mph) faster, with better fuel economy; an all-new "glass panel" avionics suite reduces cockpit clutter. In addition to heading, attitude and navigation information, flat panel color LCD 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 mid-sized jets, while being up to 40% more fuel efficient than market-competing jets.
The Avanti's turboprop engines are placed on a mid-fuselage, high aspect ratio wing, located behind the cabin. The design utilizes both a T-tail and a pair of small, fixed anhedral forward wings that have flaps. The flaps on the Avanti II's small forward wing automatically deploy in concert with main wing flaps. The arrangement allows the horizontal stabilizer to maintain relatively neutral lift, when the flaps are deployed, by eliminating the downward force that the horizontal stabilizer would otherwise have to produce to compensate for the pitch-down moment created by the deployment of the main wing flaps. This in turn allows the size of both the horizontal stabilizer and the main wing be reduced for efficiency. This was patented in 1982 as "Three-Lifting-Surface Configuration" (3LSC). During the same era, the Scaled Composites Triumph was designed with this configuration and for this market, and the smaller Scaled Composites Catbird was also designed with this configuration. However, neither aircraft entered production.
The forward wing angle of incidence relative to the fuselage is set so 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 horizontal stabilizer.
Cabin cross-section varies continuously along the length of the aircraft; the shape approximates a NACA airfoil section, and the slowly changing curve helps prolong laminar flow on the front of the fuselage. Piaggio claims 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 Dr. 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 known for its fuel efficiency relative to small turbojets that fly 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 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 3.4km/kg (0.84nm/lb) compared with around 2km/kg (0.49nm/lb) for current jets or 2.7km/kg (0.67nm/lb) for other turboprops." By this estimate, mileage is 70% better per-fuel-unit than comparable jet aircraft, however this extreme 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).
As the propeller disks and engine exhausts are located behind the cabin, the interior noise is lower than conventional turboprop aircraft. Piaggio quotes 68 dBA. However, due to the strongly disturbed flow in which the pusher propellers operate, the exterior noise is higher than desirable. 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 5 bladed pusher props (est. +9 dB). The reduction of external noise is an active research topic at Piaggio. On take off, the Avanti has been measured at 81.9 dBA, 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 take off. However, the P180 has been the subject of noise complaints at airports such as Naples Municipal Airport, Florida, where the airport authority determined it was the noisiest aircraft using that 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 chalk board".
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).
- P.180 Avanti
- First production variant.
- P180 M
- Military version with a combination passenger/freighter configuration for use as a VIP and light utility transport.
- P.180 RM
- Variant for use in radio calibration.
- P.180 AMB
- Air ambulance variant.
- P.180 APH
- Aerial cartography.
- P.180 Avanti II
- Variant with improved avionics and engines.
- Maritime Patrol Aircraft
- Variant of the Avanti II with larger wing.
- Piaggio-Selex P.1HH Hammerhead
- Medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle based on the Avanti II airframe, with an increased wingspan and the ability to carry up to 1,100 pounds (500 kg) of weapons. First flight anticipated in August-September 2013.
The Avanti is popular with air charter companies, is operated as a business aircraft, and is also used by small feeder airlines. As of June 2012 the fractional aircraft operator Avantair has the largest civilian fleet with 56 aircraft.
- Italian Air Force - 15
- Italian Army
- Italian Navy
- Carabinieri - Former operator.
- Guardia di Finanza
Specifications (P180 Avanti)
Data from Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1999-2000 
- Crew: one or two pilots
- Capacity: up to nine passengers
- Cabin dimensions: 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in) high, 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in) wide, 4.45 m (14 ft 7 in) long
- Payload: 907 kg (2,000 lb)
- Length: 14.41 m (47 ft 3½ in)
- Wingspan: 14.03 m (46 ft 0½ in)
- Height: 3.97 m (13 ft 0¾ in)
- Wing area: 16 m² (172.2 ft²)
- Foreplane area: 2.19 m²  (23.59 ft²)
- Horizontal stabilizer area: 3.83 m²  (41.27 ft²)
- Empty weight: 3,400 kg (7,500 lb)
- Useful load: 1,860 kg (4,100 lb)
- Max. takeoff weight: 5,239 kg (11,550 lb)
- Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66 turboprop, 634 kW (850 shp) each
- Maximum speed: 737 km/h (398 kn, 458 mph)
- Cruise speed: 732 km/h (395 kn, 455 mph) cruise at 30,000 ft (9,144 m), 660 km/h (356 kn, 410 mph) economy cruise at 39,000 ft (11,887 m)
- Stall speed: 172 km/h (93 kn, 107 mph)
- Range: 2,795 km (1,509 NM, 1,737 mi)at 11,900 m (39,042 ft) IFR
- Service ceiling: 12,500 m (41,010 ft)
- Rate of climb: 15 m/s (2,953 ft/min)
- Wing loading: 327 kg/m² (67.1 lb/ft²)
- Power/mass: 0.24 kW/kg (6.79 lb/hp
- Fuel economy: 0.84 NM/Lbs @FL410 and 316 KTAS)
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Comparable aircraft of historic interest
- Related lists
- K-air, Retrieved 28 April 2012
- K-air fleet details, Retrieved 28 April 2012
- AirGO About, Retrieved 13 April 2012
- Morrison, Murdo (6 December 2011). "In Focus: Piaggio looks to special missions market with P180 Avanti and new jet". Flight International. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
- Piaggio’s Unusual Airplane Maximizes Efficiency
- "Fuel Miser". Flying Magazine. 30 December 2008. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
- Taylor 1988, p. 163.
- Taylor 1999, p. 439.
- NBAA: Piaggio embarks on 'new phase' of jet development
- Jason Fogelson (2012-04-18). "Piaggio's P180 Avanti II Turboprop Challenges Executive Jets". Forbes. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
- "Three's Company", Peter Garrison, Flying/December 2002
- "P180 Avanti-Specification and Description". Retrieved 13 May 2013.
- Aircraft Configuration Study for Experimental 2-Place Aircraft and RPVs, March, 1990
- Des couacs chez les canards - See diagram at page bottom (French)
- United States Patent Office, patent# 4746081
- Efficiency Piaggio Aero
- Collins, Peter (1 November 2005), "Flight Test: Piaggio Avanti II - Hard to beat", Flight International
- Black, Gary (March 1990.), "Aircraft Configuration Study for Experimental 2-Place Aircraft and RPVs", Naval Postgraduate School Thesis
- "Tonal and Broadband Noise Calculations for Aeroacoustic Optimization of a Pusher Propeller", Journal Of Aircraft 47 (3), May–June 2010, retrieved 28 December 2011
- Aircraft Noise Terminology - Palm Beach International Airport (undated), FAA Stage Classifications, retrieved 13 December 2011
- Federal Aviation Administration (15 February 2001), Noise Levels for U.S. Certificated and Foreign Aircraft, retrieved 16 October 2012
- Migual, Tracy X. (12 April 2010). "Naples airport addressing noise complaints with Avanti aircraft". Naples News. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
- Niles, Russ (13 December 2011). "Naples Targets Piaggio Noise". AVweb. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
- "P180 Avanti II". Retrieved 28 January 2013.
- EASA TCDS EASA.A.059 Piaggio P.180
- Sweetman, Bill. "Piaggio, Saab Take On Ambitious Maritime Patrol Program." Aviation Week, July 11, 2012.
- Davies, Alex (June 19, 2013). "The Italian Air Force Is Buying 10 Of These Strange-Looking Drones". Business Insider. New York. Retrieved 2013-08-02.
- Svitak, Amy; Amy Butler, Bill Sweetman (June 24, 2013). "Answering the MALE". Aviation Week & Space Technology (New York: McGraw Hill Financial) 175 (21): 34. ISSN 0005-2175.
- Avantair, Inc. Reports Fiscal 2012 Third Quarter Financial Results, See "fleet of 57 aircraft" at bottom of page.
- Aboulafia, Richard. Jane's Civil Aircraft, 1996, HarperCollings Publishers, p. 197
- Taylor 1999, pp. 438—439.
- Aeronautica Militare unit page
- Flight International 15–21 December 2009, p. 43.
- Peaford, Alan. "PARIS AIR SHOW: UAE selects Piaggio Avanti for multi-utility role". Flightglobal.com. 15 June 2009. Retrieved 29 August 2009.
- "Final Report HCLJ510-2011-33 N108GF" mirror page 82. Accident Investigation Board Denmark. Retrieved: 23 September 2012.
- Taylor, John W.R. (ed.) Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1988-89. Coulsdon, UK:Jane's Defence Data, 1988. ISBN 0-7106-0867-5.
- Taylor, Michael J.H. (ed.) Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1999/2000 Edition. London: Brassey's, 1999. ISBN 1-85753-245-7.
- "World Air Forces Directory 2009". Flight International, 15–21 December 2009, pp. 33–53.
- Comparison of different aircraft at http://www.avbuyer.com/aircraft/compare_performance_data.aspx.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Piaggio P180.|