The folllowing is an excerpt from an article published on 'Rivista Aeronautica' (issue of march /april 1994). Published with permission of editors
Italian Air Forces ordered 6 of these planes, of which 4, delivered in december 1993, are in service at the Reparto Sperimentale di Volo. They will be deployed, on completion of the training program, at the Pratica di Mare squadron, at the 653rd group of 53rd wing at Cameri, at the 303rd group at Guidonia, and at 636 group of 36th wing at Gioia del Colle, according to a territorial distribution with two planes for each Regione Aerea.
The planes will be used as passengers transport, to allow Air Force personnel to attend at national or international meetings, for emergency maintenance intervention on out-of-area aircrafts, or for carrying small spare parts and various materials.
To achieve these tasks, Air Force has defined various configurations of the aircraft: cabin for 5 / 8 passengers with baggage, cargo for a payload of 1750lbs, combi, i.e. passengers and materials up to 1300lbs, and as an ambulance, with two seats and two stretchers, and emergency rescue materials.
The P180 of Italian A.F. has the same avionics of the commercial model, with IFR capabilities, and GPS. The military installations concern the UHF/VHF, TACAN and IFF. And now, here are the performance of this bi-turbo-prop, main product of Piaggio Industries. The project concept was to plan a turboprop aircraft, carrying 7 / 9 passengers, with performances equivalent to a jet of the same category, but with cheaper maintenance costs, typical of a propeller-driven aircraft. The target has been reached, thanks to a particularly efficient aerodynamic design, and to technologically advanced materials.
The pressuerized cabin is the widest, in the category of this aircraft, and can carry up to nine passengers plus the crew. The 'Avavnti' is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PT6A-66, (850sHP),and by two Hatzell 5 blades propellers, reaches a ceiling of 41.000 feets and a max speed of 400 knots approx. The range, at 36,000 ft, 306 kts, is 1450 nm. The P-180 can reach any european airport from any Air Force base, with flight time similar to a jet plane, but with a fuel consumption up o 50% lower. The 'Avanti' is a very cheap aircraft: as an example an hour of flght costs 1000 US$, while an hour of flight of a biz-jet costs between 2500 and 3500 US$, computed on a 600 hrs /year basis. in 1994, there were at least 20 P180, at different latitudes, and under every weather condition, that are hard-testing the craft. It has been sold in USA, Canade, French, Germany, Spain and Bulgary, and, of course, in Italy. under no cirumstance it showed any failure or damge due to manufatcuring fault