|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 a 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's angle of incidence relative to the fuselage is set 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 horizontal stabilizer.
The 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 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 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 other 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 five 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).
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.
Data from Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1999-2000 
Comparable aircraft of historic interest
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