The Piaggio P-166 has been built in only small numbers but has been used in a wide variety of utility missions.
Intended for civil use when designed in the late 1950s, the P-166 features a large cabin which has been put to use in a variety of civil, military and quasi military roles, while its gull wing with tip tanks and pusher engines configuration like that on the P-136 amphibian, ensures it is easily identified.
The prototype P-166 first flew on November 16, 1957, and deliveries of the initial P-166AL-1 production model took place from April 1959. Just 23 were built before production switched to the P-166BL-2 Portofino, which featured more powerful 285kW (380hp) engines and an increased max takeoff weight of 3800kg (8377lb). Five Portofinos were built, while several earlier P-166s were converted to that standard with the more powerful engines.
The Italian Air Force received 51 of the military model, the P-166ML-1, for communication and training duties. This had an extra cockpit door, a larger main loading door, and a strengthened floor.
The P-166S Albatross was built for the South African Air Force as a search-and-rescue and surveillance version, twenty of which were built.
The P-166CL-2 was introduced in 1964 and featured a larger cabin and 3950kg (8708lb) max takeoff weight. It could seat 12 passengers but only two were built. It had an external landing gear pod.
The P-166DL-2 had an increased fuel capacity in the wingtip tanks, and a higher MTOW of 4100kg (9039lb).
The turboprop LTP-101 powered P-166DL-3 first flew in 1976 and was certificated in 1978. Alitalia has taken delivery of several for use as crew trainers, but most have been for the Italian government and military. Production of the radar and FLIR equipped P-166DL-3/SEM continued into the 1990s for the Italian Coastguard and it remains available on demand.
The 459kW (615shp) Pratt & Whitney PT6A-121 powered P-166DP-1 first flew in May 1999, eight have been ordered by the Italian Customs and Coastguard.
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