Aermacchi M-345 completes first flight


The prototype of the new Aermacchi M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer) two-seat basic jet trainer has successfully completed its first flight from Venegono Superiore airfield, Italy.

The aircraft was flown on 29 December by Quirino Bucci and Giacomo Iannelli from Leonardo Aircraft Division. Quirino Bucci, Project Test Pilot Trainers of Leonardo Aircraft Division, said: “The aircraft conducted itself perfectly, meeting the expectations of the design parameters while showing excellent performance. The engine in particular demonstrated a great capacity to react to regime changes, which is a fundamental characteristic for a basic training aircraft.”

The M-345 is the latest-generation aircraft from Leonardo for military pilot training and is aimed at being no more expensive than turboprops.

The test campaign will be completed within 2017. The next tests will check the advanced avionics systems, the engine and the flight envelope expansion, including altitude, speed and manoeuvrability.

Thanks to its modern avionics, considerable external load-carrying capability on the wing pylons and performance, the M-345HET is also suited for operational roles. Life cycle cost reduction is driven by long fatigue and two-level maintenance, the latter made possible by replacing the expensive general overhauls with the airframe and systems Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS), Leonardo said.

The avionics, based on the latest M-346’s experience, matches the standards of the latest combat jets, including HOTAS (Hands On Throttle And Stick) controls, Head up Display (HUD), Multi-Function Displays (MFD), the real-time data link. The aircraft is powered by a Williams FJ44-4M-34 turbofan engine with thrust of 1,540 kg (3,450 lbs).

The M-345 HET is a re-engined version of the M-345, which was before 2012 known as the M-311. The M-311 in turn is a modernized and uprated version of the SIAI Marchetti S.211/Aermacchi S-211.

According to Leonardo, the M-345 HET has a top speed of 420 kt at 20,000 ft; a stall speed of 88 kt; a rate-of-climb of 5,200 ft/min; a service ceiling of 40,000 ft; a sustained load factor of +4 g (the airframe is stressed for +7/-3,5 g); a fuel consumption (average) of 380 litre/hr; a maximum range of 760 n miles (clean) or 1,000 n miles (with external tanks); an endurance of 2.75 hours (clean) or 3.85 hours (external tanks); and a take-off run and landing roll of 520 metres.

Italy has committed to acquiring the M-345 HET, and Leonardo-Finmeccanica has signed a memorandum of understanding with Chile.