Finmeccanica’s Alenia Aermacchi division is launching a competition to find a nickname for its M346. The division’s CEO, Carmelo Cosentino, said the first low-rate initial production (LRIP) example flew on July 7, and that the aircraft is 700 kg lighter than the prototypes, giving it “much better maneuverability.” Aermacchi hopes to attract 35 to 40 percent of a market for around 2,000 advanced jet trainers over the next 25 years.
Student pilots from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) have begun basic flight training on the Pilatus PC-21 advanced turboprop. Twelve aircraft have now been airfreighted to the RSAF’s Flying Training School at Pearce airbase in Australia and re-assembled. The remaining seven are due for delivery next month. They are replacing Alenia Aermacchi S-211 jet trainers that are now nearly 25 years old.
“Contractorization” may be an ugly word, but for Lockheed Martin and Britain’s VT Group, it is pretty good business. Their joint venture, called Ascent, last month won a £635 million ($1.25 billion) contract to provide the military flying training system (MFTS) for UK armed forces over the next 25 years. During that time, a further £6 billion ($11.8 billion) could be spent on training aircraft, simulators, equipment and services.
Marshall Aerospace is proposing a significant upgrade for the RAF’s Tucano trainer, in conjunction with the original manufacturer, Bombardier subsidiary Short Brothers.
Twelve years after the first Farnborough show in 1948, the Society of British Aircraft Constructors (SBAC) opened the event to foreign engine makers whose products equipped UK aircraft. The daily 1960 display began with a simulation of Britain’s planned retaliatory response to nuclear attack as flights of four Avro Vulcans, Handley Page Victors or Vickers Valiant “V-bombers” were “scrambled.”
The UK Royal Air Force mounted the biggest flypast seen in Europe for many years over RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, last Friday. On the ground, the Queen presented new colors to the RAF and the RAF Regiment with due ceremony, to mark the service’s 90th anniversary. Fortunately, the popular song title came true, and the rain did not fall on her parade.
Alenia Aermacchi’s first pre-production M-346 lead-in fighter trainer made its official maiden flight on July 7 with Aermacchi chief test pilot Olinto Cecconello at the controls. The jet, painted in “Finmeccanica red” in a nod to Alenia Aermacchi’s parent company, had made three previous flights, all occurring the week before the first official public flight pictured here.
French-Italian regional turboprop manufacturer Avions de Transport Régional (ATR) is considering a new aircraft to complement its 46/50 passenger ATR 42 and 68/74-seat ATR 72 regional turboprop aircraft. CEO Stéphane Mayer confirmed that the airframer is studying a larger turboprop, probably to seat between 90 and 100 seats, and options including a two- or three-member family. “A stretch [of today’s ATR 72] is not a solution,” he said.
At the Finmeccanica exhibit here at Farnborough (Outside OE2) visitors once again can find Alenia Aermacchi’s M-346 lead-in fighter trainer. At a first glance the aircraft looks the same as that exhibited at previous airshows, but close up it is possible to note some of the differences featured in this first preproduction aircraft, which was rolled out from the Italian group’s assembly line in April.
Nearby Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) is now offering an accelerated first officer flight training (FOFT) program, which trains first officer candidates to regional airline and corporate fleet standards in less than a year.