Alenia Aermacchi's first production-representative M-346 advanced jet trainer made its first flight on 7 July from the company's Venegono headquarters. Sporting a red livery, the new aircraft - dubbed LRIP00 - will be ferried to participate in the static display at the Farnborough air show, where one of the company's prototypes will also fly each day.

"Compared with the two M-346 prototypes, the flying controls of LRIP00 are even more representative of a fifth-generation aircraft," says Alenia Aermacchi chief test pilot Capt Olinto Cecconello.

 M-346 taxi
All pictures © Alenia Aermacchi

 M-346 off

 M-346 landing

The reduced-weight aircraft will also offer a 20% performance improvement over the original design, and have additional fuel, enhanced cockpit visibility and an improved man/machine interface, including an electronic check-list.

It also offers improved maintainability and a new digital quadruplex fly-by-wire flight control system using Selex Communications computers and control software developed by Alenia Aermacchi. Combined with optimised aerodynamics, this will allow the aircraft to remain fully controllable at angles of attack above 35°.

The Italian company's new digital manufacturing process will enable it to deliver 18 M-346 trainers a year, with the potential for a future increase.

Source: Flight International