Italy’s Piaggio Aerospace is reshuffling its programme priorities following a number of programme difficulties in 2016 that included a new industrial plan and refocusing of energies.
“We had a very challenging 2016, and we are completing our restructuring plan. As part of that, we have decided to focus the activities of the company on aircraft,” CEO Renato Vaghi told Jane’s at the Paris Air Show. “We currently have an engine equipment manufacturing component that we will be selling off as part of our industrial plan, and this was mainly driven by the fact that we want to make sure that all the focus and energy of the company go into the development of new products in the portfolio, as well as the improvement of existing products.”
As a result, the funds gained from the divestment – which is planned for 2017 – of the engine manufacturing and maintenance component will be used to fund research and development for systems such as the company’s P.1HH HammerHead unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
“As part of the industrial strategy we are developing our portfolio of commercial products, and also the P.1HH HammerHead. The P.180 is one that we see has a lot of potential, but resource-wise and focus-wise, we are working on the completion of the HammerHead.”
Following a crash in 2016 of a HammerHead test vehicle off the coast of Sicily, the company is down to one test aircraft – the second built – which is quietly beginning to make progress.
“The second aircraft is currently undergoing tests. It went through a series of ground runs and we’re getting ready to fly, which will be in the next few weeks at the Trapani Air Base in Sicily. We currently can’t fly UAVs from our factory in Villanova because we don’t have [air] corridors,” Vaghi said.
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