Avanti Evo's Future in Doubt as Piaggio Aerospace Declares Itself Insolvent

Officials blame a failed Italian air force deal for a UAV version of the sleek pusher turboprop for the move.

Piaggio Avanti Evo
It could be the end of the line for the Piaggio Avanti Evo.Piaggio Aerospace

The future fate of the Avanti Evo twin turboprop is in doubt following the insolvency of Italy’s Piaggio Aerospace. The company, controlled by Abu Dhabi-based investment firm Mubadala, declared bankruptcy on November 22 following slow sales of the Avanti Evo and the UAV version of the aircraft, the P.1HH. About 1,200 people are employed by Piaggio Aerospace and the future for those positions remains unclear as well.

Known for its striking configuration that incorporates a small canard wing up front and five-blade scimitar propellers that face backward, the Avanti Evo is one of the fastest, roomiest and most efficiant turboprops on the market. But with Piaggio declaring itself insolvent, entering into “special administration,” a process similar to declaring bankruptcy in the United States, questions remain whether financial backers at Mubadala, an investment fund owned by the state of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, will seek to keep the iconic airplane in production or let it quietly fade away.

Piaggio asked the Italian government for it to be put into receivership due to “the state of insolvency of the company.” Labor unions and politicians blamed delays on an expected drone order from the Italian Air Force for the company’s financial troubles.

In a statement, Piaggio described the situation as dire: "The prolonged uncertainty and present market conditions make the company no longer financially sustainable.”

In 2016, the United Arab Emirates signed to buy eight P.1HH aircraft, dubbed the Hammerhead. Piaggio had planned to make its first delivery to the UAE by year end. Italy had originally offered to be the launch customer for the Hammerhead, but as the UAE order went ahead, the Italian air force decided it wanted a longer-endurance version, leading to the development of the P2.HH, a contract that would be valued at about $873 million.

The Italian drone orders were expected to help keep the company in business as orders for the P.180 Avanti Evo lagged. But with Italian officials seemingly unsure of whether they still want to the P2.HH UAVs, the fate of the storied Italian aircraft manufacturer and its sleek pusher turboprop hang in the balance.