Italy’s ministry of economic development agreed at a meeting on April 24 to facilitate the return to production of the Piaggio Avanti Evo and P.1HH Hammerhead, an unmanned maritime reconnaissance version of the Avanti. The company’s government-appointed administrator Vincenzo Nicastro said that the announcement “represents a first concrete step for the relaunch of the company and will allow it to present itself as an attractive opportunity for potential buyers.”
The meeting was chaired by the Italian government and included representatives of local authorities and trade unions. Indications were given on the timing and steps to ensure safeguarding employees’ jobs, according to a statement issued by the government.
The statement also said that in the short term, the company will restart P.180 production, as well as work on finalizing certification of the P.1HH Hammerhead; it also cited a commitment to acquiring two systems. The government added that the long-term objective is to have capabilities in the company for developing further technology linked to the guidelines of the Ministry of Defense. This will allow the company to re-enter systems-design activity at a European level, in particular, the European medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV project.
The government said almost all workers would re-acquire their jobs, but would initially be placed on laid-off status, starting May 2. In addition, once production is restarted the commissioner will be tasked with identifying an industrial partner. The statement added that the Ministry of Defence has confirmed it will comply with the timelines required to see the execution of contracts and work orders in progress, concerning the aircraft built by the company.
In April, the company was still trying to sell P.180 Avanti Evo turboprop twins, while administrators looked for a buyer for the company, which went into insolvency after its owner Mubadala of the UAE, canceled its P.1HH Hammerhead order. On December 3, the Italian government appointed lawyer Vincenzo Nicastro as an “extraordinary receiver” to temporarily manage Piaggio.
The Italian government pledged €250 million ($280 million) to complete the final stage of the P.1HH program, including €180 million to procure eight Hammerheads and four ground stations. There are some 37 government-owned Avantis, some of which need replacement, and efforts are being made to promote new aircraft sales for the Italian Air Force, coast guard, and police.
However, it appears the non-binding letters of intent from potential buyers the company had hoped for have yet to materialize. But the administrator is understood to be preparing a fresh proposal for the sale by June, to attract potential buyers.