posted on 15/07/2012: 954 views
Piaggio, a Mubadala Development partner, Tawazun and Sweden's Saab are to develop a new multi-role patrol aircraft (MPA) based on the Italian plane maker's executive turboprop, the Avanti II.
The launch customer for the project is Abu Dhabi Autonomous Systems Investments (Adasi), a subsidiary of Tawazun, which will provide the financing for two prototypes with the first flight scheduled for 2014.
The special mission aircraft will be able to fly at an altitude of up to 41,000 feet, with an endurance of 10-plus hours, a maximum range of 3,300 nautical miles (6,111 kilometres) and a cruising speed of 350 knots (648kph). It will be powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada engines.
"The newly designed Piaggio Aero MPA aircraft will allow us to enter the surveillance sector and diversify our business profile with the development of this new state-of-the-art multi-role platform," said Alberto Galassi, the Piaggio Aero chief executive. "The innovative MPA aircraft will be a game changer in its sector. It's a very significant moment to see Piaggio Aero moving into its future with the fundamental support of Mubadala Aerospace and our world class shareholders. "
Piaggio, part-owned by Mubadala, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government, will build the aircraft, an updated version of its Aero P-180 Avanti II. Saab has been selected as the systems supplier, to develop and integrate a suite of airborne sensors and surveillance systems.
"The MPA's first application, developed with Saab, will be dedicated to maritime patrol. A high-performance search radar and electro-optic/infrared sensors suite will be integrated into a mission management system to allow for a wide variety of missions," said a spokesman for Adasi.
The modifications are understood to include the installation of fuel tanks at the rear of the cabin in the space occupied by the lavatory and wardrobe on the VIP version of the six-seat twin-pusher turboprop, according to Flight magazine. This will help to extend the aircraft's current range of just 1,470 nautical miles.
The basic design of the Avanti has struggled in the mid-size business aircraft market, with deliveries down to only 11 aircraft in 2010, and 14 last year. Piaggio believes branching out into the military market with this MPA variant could give the basic design a new lease of life. -The National
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