The new Piaggio Aerospace Avanti Evo has been unveiled to corporate customers, and Business Traveller was offered a test flight from the Private Jet Centre at London City Airport.
The aircraft is being sold exclusively in the UK by ConnectJets, headed up by Gabriella Somerville, and was being shown to media, private individuals and brokers.
The aircraft certainly looks unusual, not just with the small forward wing which give it a slight resemblance to a catfish, but also the propellers which are “pusher” and, being mounted behind the wings, give a quieter ride and reduce turbulence.
It has a lovely curved fuselage, aerodynamically shaped from nose to tail in a continuous curve, creating a sleek profile that minimizes drag. This design contributes to low running costs because of fuel savings (it uses 40 percent less fuel than most jets). It is one of the world’s fastest turboprops with a maximum speed of 402 kts (463 MPH) and reaching 41,000ft.
The aircraft is aimed both at those who want to fly, and those who want to be flown. Firmly in the second category, I shook hands with one of the two pilots and climbed on board.
Inside the aircraft is spacious, with a stand up cabin height of 5ft 9” and width of 6ft 1”. It can carry up to 8 passengers though we had six and two pilots.
Piaggio Aerospace is understandably proud of its Italian heritage (the factory is in Genoa), and as well as the aircraft having been both designed and built in Italy, the interior has Iacobucci seats with Poltrona Frau leather, still smelling lovely and new. The ones in the picture below are cream-coloured. On our flight they were a darker leather.
We had only a short wait and taxi and then took off – you can watch take-off, a few shots of the view and then landing in this video.
During the short flight (30 minutes) the cabin was quiet enough for easy conversation, and the cabin pressure, which is kept around 6,600 feet, was comfortable. Landing was uneventful, and very soon we were disembarking back at the London City Jet Centre.
Mention should also be made of two of Connectjets’ suppliers present at the event: aviation nutritionist Sarah Wilson who customises healthy cuisine options for ConnectJets’ clients, and Tom Harrow from Honest Grapes who showcased wines chosen specially for the flight including from Consorzio di Franciacorta, Ca’ del Bosco, and San Leonardo AVE Malbec Memento – owned by Tuscans Mario Pardini and Iacopo di Bugno, and made by Italian winemaker Alberto Antonini)
Pilots will have one view of the aircraft, those being flown perhaps another. For such a small aircraft I was impressed by how quick on the runway the Avanti Evo was, how quiet and smooth the ride once in the air, and the look of both the exterior of the aircraft and the elegant but simple interior.