Bn the search for a missing private plane with five German passengers off the coast of Costa Rica, the emergency services discovered several pieces of debris in the sea. About 28 kilometers from Limón airport, parts of a fuselage, seats and a bag were sighted during a reconnaissance flight, the television station Teletica reported on Saturday, citing the Ministry of Public Security of the Central American country. “We haven’t found the passengers yet, dead or alive,” said Coast Guard Chief Martín Arias.
The Piaggio P.180 Avanti business jet went missing on a flight from Mexico to Costa Rica on Friday evening. The Ministry of Security announced that communication was lost when the machine approached Limón Airport over the sea. After the search was canceled due to bad weather conditions during the night, the emergency services resumed it on Saturday. A command center was set up at Puerto Limón airport to coordinate the search work.
“There were five German passengers on the plane”
“The plane disappeared from radar about 25 miles from Limón Airport. The plane was due to land at 6:58 p.m., we lost it at 2,000 feet,” Civil Aviation Authority Director Fernando Naranjo told Teletica.
According to information from the “Bild” newspaper, the founder of the fitness center chain “McFit” Rainer Schaller, his partner Christiane Schikorsky and their two children were on board the machine, as well as another German. The spokeswoman for RSG-Group GmbH has since confirmed that the family was among the inmates.
“There were five German passengers on the plane,” Public Security Minister Jorge Torres said in a video released by Teletica TV. Contact with the machine was lost near the village of Barra del Parismina. “We are aware of the case,” said the Foreign Office in Berlin. “Our embassy in San Jose is in contact with the local authorities to clarify the matter.”
The plane missing off Costa Rica with several Germans on board is an Italian Piaggio 180 Avanti business jet. The machine with a pressurized cabin is not a business jet, but is powered by two Pratt&Whitney PT-6 propeller turbines, each with 850 hp.
A so-called duck plane
The special thing about the Avanti: It is a so-called duck plane or, more precisely, a machine with canards. It therefore has two small mini wings, so-called canards, on the front of the fuselage. The turbines on the wing, which is located far back on the fuselage, do not drive traction but pusher propellers. This aircraft configuration enables a very high speed for a propeller aircraft with low kerosene consumption at the same time. The disadvantage is a significantly higher level of noise from the two pressure propellers and the associated rather unpleasant flight noise for those living near an airport.
Otherwise, the Avanti has all the advantages of a comparable business jet: it can fly at high altitudes of up to 12,500 meters thanks to the pressurized cabin. In addition, the Zweimot has a de-icing system for wings and propellers, so it can fly in all weathers, similar to a Boeing or an Airbus. With a cruising speed of up to 700 km/h, the exotic-looking machine is unusually fast for a maximum of nine passengers. However, the machine, which was developed in the 1980s and has been on the market since 1990, was not a real sales success.
A total of more than 200 examples have been built to date, but Piaggio Aerospace had to file for bankruptcy some time ago. Nevertheless, the production of the aircraft continues. The company is now building new versions of the modernized Avanti under the name Evo 2. Today, however, these are mainly bought by Italian government agencies or the military and used for surveillance tasks, for example.