The Italian ministry of defense and Alenia Aermacchi have agreed to jointly define the operational requirements for a jet-powered basic trainer aimed at pilfering market share from turboprop models such as the Beechcraft T-6, Pilatus PC-21 and Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucano.
The aircraft, called the M-345 High Efficiency Trainer, is the latest attempt by Alenia to find a market for its legacy, unsold M-211 single-engine jet trainer, which was derived from the decades-old SIAI-Marchetti S.211.
The partnership was announced June 18 by Alenia Chief Executive Officer Guiseppe Giordo and Italian air force Gen. Claudio Debertolis, the top procurement policy officer at the ministry of defense, at the Paris air show. Officials say planning for the trainer is in its early phases, but they hope for it to enter into service around 2017-2020.
The aircraft will include a new avionics system and head-up display designed for cheaper operation than the baseline M-345. A turbofan 3,500 lb.-thrust class engine has been selected but not announced, says Valerio Bonelli, a spokesman for Alenia.
It is designed to address the basic-advanced portion of pilot training with a jet-powered system equal or lower in price than current turboprop aircraft that “provide only limited performance and training effectiveness,” according to Alenia officials.
The aircraft is designed to address training in advance of the more advanced syllabus of the M-346.
The HET version is also being designed with a two-level maintenance concept with the intention of reducing maintenance cost associated with older, three-level maintenance for such aircraft.