Best of the Best 2012: Business Aircraft: Business Turboprop: Piaggio Aero P.180 Avanti II

If King Airs define the turboprop category, then the Piaggio Aero P.180 Avanti II (561.253.0104, www.piaggioaero.com) redefines it. The curious-looking design elements serve specific purposes in improving the aircraft’s performance and the passengers’ comfort. Piaggio, an Italian manufacturer, placed the twin rear-facing engines 8 feet behind the farthest aft passenger seat to minimize cabin noise (a new propeller design that would reduce engine noise audible from the ground is reportedly in the works); the small forward wing creates lift that counteracts the downward force and drag resulting from the engines’ position; the curved top edge of the fuselage improves the plane’s aerodynamics; and the inverted-V wing beneath the traditional T-shaped tail helps further reduce drag. Because of these features, the nine-passenger, $7.5 million Avanti II offers the efficiency of a turboprop—its direct-operating cost is only $1,200 per flight hour—and the power and comfort of a similarly sized jet.

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