Piaggio P.180 Avanti II in Photos

Twenty years after its introduction to the market, Piaggio's P.180 remains a remarkable provider of speed, fuel efficiency and cabin size.

As a hybrid turboprop/jet, the Piaggio P.180 Avanti II sits in a class of its own.
**The avionics package in the Paggio P.180 Avanti II is the Collins Pro Line 21 suite. The system boasts numerous safety utilities, including satellite weather, e-charts, TCAS and TAWS. **
The baggage compartment of the Piaggio P.180 Avanti II is not accessible in flight, though it is roomy enough for a generous baggage allotment for each passenger. Full-size golf bags and even skis fit in back, and, because the P.180 sits so low, loading is easy.
The forward wing of the Piaggio P.180 Avanti II is fitted with flaps but no elevator.
The entry door of the Piaggio P.180 Avanti II is wide enough for easy entry, even with a couple of small bags in hand. Because the Avanti II sits so low to the ground, it’s a short step up, another factor that makes it a passenger favorite among charter operators and fractional providers.
The Pratt & Whitney PT6 turboprops that power the Piaggio P.180 Avanti II are mounted far aft of the pressure bulkhead for improved quietude.
This enhances what is already arguably the airplane’s biggest selling point, its remarkable cabin, which is roomy enough that most passengers can stand comfortably or sit without crossing legs.
Geometry enthusiasts love the Piaggio P.180. The forward wing and tail have 5 degrees of negative dihedral while the main wing has 2 degrees of positive dihedral.
As any serious transport airplane should, the P.180 features a dedicated autopilot panel. The niche below can store en route charts or an iPad or two.
The need for increased wing area for slower landing speeds necessitated flaps even on the wing root between the nacelles and the fuselage. The flaps, interestingly, automatically deploy and retract on a schedule, to keep pitch changes to a minimum. The strategy works. Despite the big change in center of lift when you reconfigure the airplane, the automated flap motors make hand flying a no-brainer.
One of the most unusual parts of the Piaggio P.180 Avanti II experience for the pilot is the view outside, which is limited on takeoff, but expansive on approach.
When Piaggio Aero was developing the Avanti II, there were issues with the pusher props but at least one unexpected benefit too: Because the props are in the exhaust stream, it wasn’t necessary to de-ice them, as needs to be done with tractor configurations. Engineers were initially concerned that the exhaust would be hard on the five-blade Hartzell props, but their durability and reliability over the past 20 years has been just as good as comparable tractor props. That is to say, they make TBO on a regular basis.
The Piaggio P.180 Avanti II is a remarkably beautiful airplane, to the point where it sometimes seems as though design takes precedence over function. Whether this is true or not is moot. Form and function coexist seamlessly on the Avanti II.
As can be clearly seen in a front-on view, the different surfaces of the Piaggio P.180 Avanti II are, well, different. The front surface has 5 degrees of anhedral; the wing, 2 degrees of dihedral; and the tail, 5 degrees of anhedral again. The conflicting geometry seems to balance out nicely. The flying manners of the airplane are excellent.
**You don’t think of the Avanti II as a rough field airplane, but there’s nothing in the manual to prevent you from flying from a hard-packed dirt strip, so long, apparently, as you’re lighter than 11,550 pounds at takeoff or 10,945 pounds for landing. With the exception of the Collins Pro Line 21 avionics, the panel of the airplane is solid and utilitarian, with the switches nicely grouped for easier workflow. **
The wing area of the 12,000-plus-pound Avanti II is actually less than that of a Cessna 210, so high lift devices are a must. Even with these huge full-Fowler flaps, the approach speeds on the airplane are fast, around 120 knots on final. Still, thanks to good acceleration, big brakes and fully reversible propellers, the Avanti’s runway performance is quite good.
The power quadrant couldn’t be simpler. The power levers in particular are deceptively simple. You lift and pull them back to put the props into beta or reverse, but there’s no obvious mechanism on the levers to do that. You just give a hearty pull up and then back. The Avanti II, like every other PT6 airplane, lacks fadec, a situation that Pratt & Whitney has yet to address with iconic powerplant. The effect with this single-pilot airplane is increased workload in every phase of flight.
The main gear of the Avanti II look a little off-kilter from some angles, less so from others. Regardless, they do their job superbly, smoothing landings sufficiently and aiding in good ground handling. Thanks to an electrically actuated, hydraulically driven steerable nosewheel, maneuvering the airplane on the ramp is remarkably easy. For takeoff you select a less sensitive ground steering mode. There is no tiller; you steer with your feet until the rudder becomes active, which takes mere moments. And away you go.
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