Piaggio Aerospace

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Coordinates: 44°02′40″N 8°07′40″E / 44.0444135°N 8.1276593°E / 44.0444135; 8.1276593

Piaggio Aerospace
Società per Azioni
IndustryAerospace
Founded1884
FounderRinaldo Piaggio
Headquarters,
Key people
Renato Vaghi (CEO)
ProductsAircraft, Aero engines
ParentMubadala Development Company
Websitewww.piaggioaerospace.it

Piaggio Aerospace, formerly Piaggio Aero Industries, is a multinational aerospace manufacturing company headquartered in Villanova d'Albenga, Italy. The company designs, develops, manufactures and maintains aircraft, aero-engines, aerospace components and aerostructures.

Established in 1884 as Rinaldo Piaggio S.p.A., it shares its ancestry with motor vehicle manufacturer Piaggio and is one of the world's oldest aircraft manufacturers, having produced its first aircraft during 1915. The company's facilities were rebuilt following the Second World War and several original designs, including the P.136 seaplane, the P.149 trainer aircraft, and the P.166 utility transport, were released during the first two decades of the postwar era. During the 1960s, Piaggio began manufacturing jet engines as well. During 1966, the business was separated into the aviation-focused Piaggio Aero and the motor scooter manufacturer Vespa.

During the 1980s, Piaggio developed a new generation business aircraft, the P.180 Avanti. During the late 1990s, Piaggio underwent drastic changes following its bankruptcy. The company was negatively impacted by the Great Recession and the downturn in the business aircraft market. During late 2018, the company entered into receivership after having declared itself insolvent. The firm owns a subsidiary in the United States, Piaggio America, located at West Palm Beach, Florida.

History[edit]

A Piaggio P.166 in flight

The Rinaldo Piaggio S.p.A. company was founded in Genoa, Italy, in 1884.[1] Originally, the company was involved in the outfitting of ocean liners and the manufacturing of rolling stock for the developing Italian railway infrastructure around the turn of the century. From the financial gains that it had garnered from these industries, Rinaldo Piaggio was able to construct a large factory based in Final Marina during 1906.[citation needed] In 1915, during the opening years of the First World War, the company produced its first Piaggio-branded aircraft.[1]

The 1920s was a particularly turbulent and influential period in the company's history; Piaggio Aero brought on two new aeronautical engineers, Giovanni Pegna and Giuseppe Gabrielli, who both played a major role in developing Piaggio's aeronautical sector. Penga and Gabrielli worked together to create numerous technical solutions to aviation problems; to support their aerodynamic research, in 1928, Piaggio completed an innovative wind tunnel.[1] The firm eventually helped to bring forth the design and construction of the world's first helicopter.[citation needed]

During 1938, Senator Rinaldo Piaggio died at 71 years old, thus ending the Rinaldo Piaggio era. That same year, the firm finished construction of the new Piaggio P.108 heavy bomber, its first four-engined aircraft.[1] During the battles and widespread devastation of the Second World War, Piaggio's facilities were reduced to ruins. Rinaldo's sons Enrico, inventor of the Vespa motor scooter, and Armando, played key roles in the postwar rebuilding process.[citation needed]

In 1948, Piaggio launched the Piaggio P.136, a twin-engine seaplane that was operated by the Italian Air Force and various other operators, often in liaison/sea transport capacity. The company also benefited from an increased demand for basic aircraft training; during 1953, the German Air Force ordered 265 Piaggio P.149 trainers. By 1957, Piaggio had also developed the Piaggio P.166, a twin-engine light transport aircraft, which was marketed and produced for military customers and civilian personnel worldwide.[1]

In 1960, Piaggio secured a production license for the Rolls Royce Viper turbojet engine; shortly thereafter, the firm began manufacturing jet engines. Four years later, it built its first jet-powered aircraft, the Piaggio PD.808 business aircraft.[1] The 1960s was a decade of considerable expansion for Piaggio, moving beyond its core business focus. During 1966, the company formally separated into two separate entities, one being the aviation-focused Piaggio Aero and the other becoming Vespa, a specialist company in the production of motor scooters.[citation needed]

Old Piaggio Aero logo
Planform view of the Piaggio P.180 Avanti, highlighting its unusual design

During the 1980s, Piaggio developed a new generation business aircraft, the P.180 Avanti; its unconventional appearence was reportedly designed to appeal to Fortune 500 clients.[2][3] During 1990, the Avanti received type certification from multiple aviation authorities and entered service shortly thereafter.[4][5]

During the late 1990s, Piaggio's ownership went through multiple drastic changes following the firm's bankruptcy. During November 1998, it was announced that Turkish holding company Tushav had taken control of Piaggio; it was rebranded as Piaggio Aero Industries shortly thereafter. In the years that followed, an increasingly large stake in the company was acquired by a group of entrepreneurs headed by the Di Mase and Ferrari families. During 2000, Tushav decided to surrendered its interest in Piaggio Aero Industries; the entity had once held a controlling 51% stake in the company, but this hold had reduced in favour of new Italian investors buying into Piaggio.[6]

Starting in 2006, Piaggio was developing a new twin-engined jet, commonly referred to as the Piaggio P1XX; however, during August 2010, the company announced that it had decided to postpone the production phase.[7] This did not represent an absolute termination; for years following the project being put on hold, Piaggio publicly speculated on the possible launch of the programme.[8]

During 2006, the Mubadala Development Company acquired a 35% stake in Piaggio Aero Industries S.p.A.; Mubadala is a wholly owned investment vehicle of the Government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. Two years later, the Indian multinational conglomerate Tata Group acquired a one-third stake in Piaggio Aero Industries, becoming one of the primary shareholders alongside Piero Ferrari, the Di Mase family and the Mubadala Development Company.[9] As part of the acquisition, Tata gained the right to appoint three of the nine seats on the board, and one of the three seats on the management committee.[9]

The company was negatively impacted by the Great Recession, the event having caused a downturn in the market for business aircraft; reportedly, deliveries of its P.180 Avanti declined drastically from 30 aircraft during 2008 to only four per year by 2018.[10] Instead of focusing on this declining market, Piaggio decided to orientate itself towards the special missions sector, developing the Piaggio-Selex P.1HH Hammerhead, an unmanned long-endurance intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance derivative of its P.180 Avanti.[11][12] The platform was also adapted into a maritime patrol aircraft, as well as for additional special purposes, around this same timeframe.[13][14] In parallel with these programmes, the company continued to make improvements to the base P.180 Avanti, introducing an extended-range model during 2013.[15][16]

During 2013, Mubadala and Tata injecting an additional €190 million ($253 million) into Piaggio Aero Industries, increasing their combined stakes to 85.5%.[11] During October 2014, Piaggio Aero changed its name to Piaggio Aerospace.[17] During 2015, the Mubadla Development Company acquired 100% of the capital stock, assuming full control of Piaggio, after obtaining the final 1.95% of the stock from Piero Ferrari.[18]

On 3 December 2018, Piaggio Aerospace was admitted into receivership after having declared itself insolvent. The company's restructuring plan had failed less than a year after its owner, Mubadala, had injected €255 million ($308 million) and repurchased its bank debt.[10] During February 2020, it was announced that Piaggio Aerospace had been put up for sale.[19]

Operations[edit]

Facilities[edit]

Piaggio Aero Industries has production facilities covering 120,000 square meters (1.3 million square feet) in the northwest Italian cities of Genoa Sestri and Finale Ligure, as well as a High Technology Center based in Pozzuoli, near Naples. The final aircraft assembly and flight testing of aircraft is located at main facility in Genoa, which includes the corporate headquarters. Also located here is the Company's new JAR 145 certified service center, which offers full service and support to Piaggio P.180 Avanti customers as well as other aircraft. Piaggio Aero also operates two additional service centers, one at Rome's Ciampino Airport and the other at the Pratica di Mare Air Base. These service centers provide support services to commercial, government and military customers.[citation needed]

Aircraft and engine component manufacturing operations, general engineering, and engine maintenance and overhaul are all undertaken at Finale Ligure. Operations include a maintenance center and two production areas, one for engines and sheet metal parts, another for major aircraft sub-assemblies and aero structures. The High Technology Center is located in the Campania region of Italy, near Naples, focuses on aero structure design and innovative systems research. It includes the Piaggio High Technology (PHT) division, a corporate research facility which focuses on innovative aeronautical technologies. The PHT division is a joint partnership between Piaggio Aero Industries, the Italian Aerospace Research Centre (CIRA), and other European research centers. The goal is to establish the PHT as a Center of Excellence for aeronautic research and development. This center is projected to continue the Piaggio Aero tradition of new and innovative aerospace technologies and products.[citation needed]

During the 2010s, Piaggio Aero constructed a new modern manufacturing facility in Villanova d'Albenga, about 70 kilometers west of Genoa. Designed around the principles of lean manufacturing technologies, this plant enabled increases in production efficiency via an optimised workflow, as well as production capacity.[20]

Piaggio Aero worked on the production of aerostructures on behalf of other companies.[citation needed]

Aero engines[edit]

A major portion of Piaggio's work has been in the aero engines sector; the company has claimed to be the only aircraft manufacturer that also builds and maintains aero engines.[17] It has been involved in component manufacture, as well as maintenance, repair and overhaul operations on jet, turboshaft and turboprop engines, from various international major manufacturers, including Rolls-Royce and Honeywell. Piaggio has also held Long Term Agreements with several Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), including Pratt & Whitney, Pratt & Whitney Canada and Micro Turbo, whose engines power a wide range of civil and military aircraft and helicopters.[citation needed]

In 2000, Piaggio Aero Industries signed a collaboration agreement with Rolls-Royce to join the RTM322 turboshaft engine program as a manufacturing partner. Accordingly, the company has been involved in the manufacture of a significant share of the RTM322 engine components.[citation needed] During 2003, the company was selected by Pratt & Whitney to supply the Low Pressure Turbine case and the bearing compartment housings for the F135 engine that powers the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft.[citation needed]

In 2006, Piaggio Aero Industries signed an agreement with Pratt & Whitney Canada to acquire 25% of the share capital of P&WC Turbo Engines Corp., which is in charge of the production of the PW206 – PW207 helicopter engines which fits out many helicopter models such as the Agusta A109 Power', the Eurocopter EC135, the Bell 427, the MD Helicopters MD Explorer and the Kazan Ansat. Piaggio Aero has produced engine components and housed the final assembly line, as well as the maintenance and repair activities for the Pw206-207 engines.[citation needed]

Piaggio Aero Industries also has experience in the area of infrared suppression systems (IRS) for helicopters; the Agusta A129, part of the Italian Army fleet, is currently equipped with an IRS, designed, tested and manufactured by the company.[citation needed]

Aircraft models[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Corporate: History". Piaggio Aerospace. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  2. ^ Weiner, Eric (5 June 1989). "Innovative Plane Making Its Debut". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 20 December 2017. Retrieved 22 June 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.
  3. ^ Martin, Ed (29 October 1989). "Business Jets Ready For Takeoff". Chicago Tribune. Knight-Ridder Newspapers. Retrieved 19 June 2017. This is the futuristic Piaggio Avanti. It, and a handful of other avant-garde designs like it are leading American business aviation into the 1990s.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "Italy certificates Avanti". Flight International. 21 March 1990. p. 19. Archived from the original on 17 August 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  6. ^ Nativi, Andy (29 February 2000). "Tushav lets go of remaining Piaggio interest". Flight International.
  7. ^ "Piaggio not yet ready to launch jet". Flight International. 10 August 2010.
  8. ^ Sarsfield, Kate (10 June 2014). "P1XX twinjet still a possibility – Piaggio Aero". Flight International.
  9. ^ a b "Tata buys one-third stake in Piaggio Aero". Reuters. 1 October 2008. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  10. ^ a b Sarsfield, Kate (23 November 2018). "Piaggio Aerospace goes into receivership". Flightglobal.
  11. ^ a b Morrison, Murdo (12 November 2013). "Mubadala and Tata increase equity in Piaggio Aero". Flight International.
  12. ^ Peruzzi, Luca (19 February 2013). "PICTURES: Piaggio unleashes unmanned HammerHead". Flight International.
  13. ^ Morrison, Murdo (25 June 2012). "IN FOCUS: Piaggio pushes into special mission with P180". Flight International.
  14. ^ Peaford, Alan (11 July 2012). "FARNBOROUGH: Piaggio to develop maritime patrol Avanti". Flight International.
  15. ^ "NBAA: Piaggio Aero puts legs on Avanti". Flight International. 24 October 2013.
  16. ^ Sarsfield, Kate (14 July 2014). "FARNBOROUGH: Piaggio Aero delivers first extended range P180 Avanti II to SR Jet". Flight International.
  17. ^ a b "Piaggio Aero Industries becomes Piaggio Aerospace - Innovation to craft the future". Piaggio Aerospace. 20 October 2014.
  18. ^ "Mubadala takes full ownership of Piaggio Aerospace". Flightglobal.com. 16 September 2015. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  19. ^ O'Connor, Kate (26 February 2020). "Piaggio Aerospace Up For Sale". AVweb. Archived from the original on 29 February 2020. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  20. ^ Sarsfield, Kate (10 November 2014), "Piaggio Aerospace opens new manufacturing plant", Flightglobal, Reed Business Information, retrieved 11 November 2014

External links[edit]