Piaggio Avanti Evo
Piaggio Aerospace is hoping to bolster orders for its P.180 Avanti Evo (in picture) and derivative P.1HH Hammerhead unmanned maritime patrol aircraft before trying to find a buyer for the entire company. (Photo: Piaggio Aerospace)

Piaggio Aerospace Looks for a Buyer

Troubled Italian aircraft manufacturer Piaggio Aerospace is trying to chalk up orders for its P.180 Avanti Evo turboprop twin while it simultaneously searches for potential buyers of the entire company by April 2020. Piaggio went into insolvency after its UAE-based owner Mubadala cancelled its order for the P.1HH Hammerhead, an unmanned maritime patrol version of the Avanti. The Italian government appointed lawyer Vincenzo Nicastro on December 3 as an “extraordinary receiver” to temporarily manage Piaggio.

Nicastro told BJT sister publication Aviation International News at the LIMA airshow in Malaysia that the Italian government has pledged €250 million to complete the final stage of the P.1HH program, of which €180 million is for the procurement of eight Hammerheads and four ground stations. It has also informally agreed to promote the sales of the aircraft to Italian government agencies such as the Italian Air Force, coast guard, and police. There are some 37 government-owned Avantis, some of which need replacement.

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Piaggio also secured a €45 million maintenance contract to service Italian air force’s National Acrobatic Air Patrol Team “Frecce Tricolori” Aermacchi MB.339 for 12 months, as well as P.180 logistics support for the state police (three-year contract), Italian Army (12-month agreement), and national coast guard (two-year contract).

“We want everyone to know that we are still in operation,” he said. “And we want to present the new Piaggio to the world.”

The company is aiming to receive non-binding letters of intent next month from potential buyers to get a better sense of market interest. By June, Piaggio will present a proposal and officially invite the market to buy the company. Nicastro said it hopes to complete the process, including approval by the government, by next April.

“We are confident that that will happen,” he added. “Potential buyers could include companies with aeronautical background or equity funds.”