The first production version of the improved Avanti EVO, a substantially upgraded derivative of the Italian-made Avanti II pusher business turboprop, will be delivered in December.

The company, which announced a rebranding as Piaggio Aerospace here at NBAA, expects to earn EASA certification for the EVO in mid-November. “We are working in parallel with FAA and we expect to receive US certification right after EASA,” says Piaggio America CEO Giuliano Felten.

Configured with new, five-bladed, composite, scimitar-shaped Hartzell propeller blades, winglets, improved aerodynamics and an additional 60-gallon (400-lb) fuel tank, the EVO has improved climb performance, 250 nm additional range and 3% lower fuel burn. The revised propeller configuration, combined with a reduced rpm setting for the PT6A-66B developed in association with Pratt & Whitney Canada, reduces external noise by 68% and internal noise by 20%.

The firm order backlog for the EVO has increased to 16, with options on an additional 40. “The first six will be delivered from December 2014 to May 2015,” says Felten. Manufacturing of all Avantis, including unmanned and patrol derivatives, will be concentrated in a new $200 million production plant under final assembly near the French border. The 530,000-sq-ft facility at Villanova d’Albenga Airport will open November 7.

Piaggio is also partnering with Bravia Capital to lease EVO aircraft in the North American market. Bravia will take 10 aircraft initially, with another 40 to follow if all options are taken up. The package includes a new Power by the Hour service support program. As part of a wider initiative to improve its service offerings in the U.S. market, Piaggio is also partnering with Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based Banyan Air Service to develop a centralized support facility for maintenance and repairs. “Here we will concentrate resources and inventory in the future. This is a first step to showing our commitment to better customer service for our aircraft. We will have full-service reps and support engineers, spares and logistics personnel who will move into Fort Lauderdale,” says Felten.