Aermacchi is reviewing options for upgrading the S211 jet-powered basic trainer, making it more competitive against the latest generation of turboprop-powered trainers. Aermacchi acquired the S211 when it took over SIAI Marchetti in 1997, but subsequently has built no examples.

The Italian company says the S211 suffered from competition from turboprop basic trainers because of the increased cost of a jet platform. More advanced turboprop trainers - such as the Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano and Pilatus PC-21 - are intended to better match the characteristics of jet-powered aircraft and reduce the performance gap with the S211, says Aermacchi.

The company adds, however, that it is concentrating on development of the M346, with the S211D development taking second place.

It is considering a new glass cockpit with head-up displays for each pilot and three night-vision goggle compatible, liquid crystal multifunction displays for each occupant. The layout is similar to Aermacchi's in-development M346 and the glass-cockpit version of the MB339.

Other changes to the cockpit would be the additional of hands-on-throttle-and-stick inceptors, a new mission computer and an improved navigation system with embedded GPS.

Aermacchi is also eyeing a 28% thrust increase. The existing aircraft - operated by the Philippines and Singapore - is powered by a 3,190lb-thrust (14.2kN) Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D. As a result, maximum speed would increase from 325kt (600km/h) to 380kt and rate of climb from 3,500ft/min (17.8m/s) to 4,745ft/min.

Source: Flight International