Piaggio Aerospace of Italy is offering its P.180 "Avanti" twin-turboprop executive aircraft for the maritime patrol role through its Avanti MPA ("Multirole Patrol Aircraft") product. The aircraft is designed for special mission applications related primarily to maritime scouting and reconnaissance while retaining and overland and coastline patrol capabilities as well - allowing it to undertake missions related to Tactical Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance (ISR), ELectronic INTelligence (ELINT), COMmunications INTelligence (COMINT) and general ground surveillance.
The MPA is based on the framework established with the Piaggio P.180 "Avanti II" series aircraft.
In the MPA, the overall structure has received attention: there is general streamlining of the fuselage as well as increased spans to the various horizontal surfaces to produce better control and lifting properties resulting in an aircraft with a higher payload capacity. The three lifting surfaces common to the P.180 line are all there - canards are featured ahead of the cockpit section, the slim, straight wing mainplanes are seated low and under the fuselage, and the horizontal tailplanes are installed high atop the single vertical tail fin. This triple-plane (Three Lifting Surfaces Configuration = 3LSC) arrangement benefits low-altitude flying as well as fuel efficiency. The Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC) engines are fitted in a "pusher" configuration, each nacelle found at each wing mainplane and extending from ahead of the leading edges to well past the trailing edges, and are used to drive newly-designed scimitar-style propeller units. A tricycle undercarriage, also of all-new design specifically for the MPA, is used for ground-running.
Internally, the aircraft carries a full search radar suite and electro-optical and InfraRed (IR) sensors. The fuselage features a ventral blister pack housing specialized mission equipment. The crew of two are seated side-by-side in the cockpit just aft of the nosecone while the spacious passenger cabin is arranged with the appropriate equipment needed for the maritime patrol role. Rectangular windows dot the fuselage sides. Two mission consoles are fitted to either side of the customizable fuselage and a compact galley and toilet area are also included for long-endurance missions. Internal space has also been reserved for additional fuel storage for increased operational ranges.
Performance specifications include a dash speed nearing 350 knots with an excellent rate-of-climb able to take the aircraft to altitudes of 41,000 feet. The aircraft can operate at high altitudes for up to ten hours and at low altitudes for up to seven hours while reaching out to ranges of 3,300 nautical miles. The unique arrangement of fuselage, wings, and engines make the MPA one of the quietest and fastest turboprop aircraft available today - providing performance more akin to jet aircraft than propeller-driven types.
The MPA is being developed jointly with support from Abu Dhabi Autonomous System Investments (ADASI) of Abu Dhabi. Saab Defence and Security Systems of Sweden has developed the MPA's all-important mission system fit.
May 2016 - The MPA platform has achieved its first-flight though the program has since been stalled indefinitely.
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