x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Air Force purchases two aircraft from Italy's Piaggio Aero

Mubadala, an investment arm of the Government, bought its stake in the Italian company three years ago.

LE BOURGET // The UAE Air Force has bought two P180 Avanti II aircraft from Piaggio Aero, an Italian firm 35 per cent owned by Mubadala Development, it was announced at the Paris Air Show yesterday. Piaggio also received an order for the twin turboprop aircraft from Susi Air of West Java, Indonesia, in some of the only new aircraft orders at an air show subdued by the global economic slowdown.

"The UAE Air Force's selection of the Avanti II confirms the commitment of Piaggio Aero to maintain a priority relationship with one of the most important and selective markets in the world," said Alberto Galassi, the chief executive of Piaggio Aero. The aircraft will be used for transporting specialised staff and medical evacuation, and will be outfitted with a kit that allows it to be quickly turned into an air ambulance, Piaggio said.

Susi Air will focus on VIP charter and medical evacuation for the Avanti II, which is known for its unique propeller location behind the wings, in addition to its fixed forward wings. Mubadala, an investment arm of the Government, bought its stake in the Italian company in April 2006 to take advantage of Piaggio's expertise with the emirate's burgeoning aerospace industry. Also yesterday, Airbus received an order for 24 A320-family aircraft from Qatar Airways in a deal worth US$1.9 billion (Dh6.97bn) at list prices.

Another Italian firm with deep ties to the Emirates, Finmeccanica, yesterday said it had begun contract negotiations with the UAE Armed Forces for 48 jet trainers, after a memorandum of understanding was signed at the IDEX defence show in Abu Dhabi in February. "The UAE has selected the aircraft and has started negotiations for the acquisition of 48 M-346 aircraft," Pier Francesco Guarguaglini, the chairman and chief executive of Finmeccanica, said yesterday. "We also hope to enter into the region's homeland security activities, such as border control."

Alenia Aeronautica, a Finmeccanica subsidiary, is also pursuing a joint venture with Abu Dhabi Autonomous System Investments - a subsidiary of the government-backed Tawazun - to design and develop medium-altitude unmanned aerial vehicle systems, Dow Jones reported. Alenia Aeronautical is also one of the first customers for Strata Manufacturing, a composites maker owned by Mubadala, from which it will buy aerostructure parts.

Another Finmeccanica subsidiary, SELEX Sistemi Integrati, recently won a contract to supply the Navy with command and control systems for patrol boats. igale@thenational.ae German tenants for air zone, b4