Aermacchi M-346 Trainer Flies Supersonic

Released on Thursday, December 18, 2008
M-346 Master
The Alenia Aermacchi M-346 advanced trainer made its first supersonic flight, reaching yesterday Mach 1.15 in the "supersonic corridor" off the Italian Riviera coast.

The first prototype M-346 reached this important milestone during a 75 minute flight which began and ended on the company airfield at Venegono Superiore.

�Breaking the sound barrier shows the great growth potential of our M-346 - commented after the flight Quirino Bucci, Alenia Aermacchi Chief Test Pilot. - The flight went as planned. The aircraft showed excellent controllability as it exceeded the speed of sound and maintained its pleasant handling throughout the deceleration phase. All aircraft systems performed regularly throughout the acceleration and deceleration phases�.

This significant achievement is further testimony to the high capabilities and performances of the Aermacchi M-346 platform, which integrates the power of its two Honeywell F124 engines with extremely effective aerodynamics and the new release of the digital Fly by Wire flight control software. This allowed the aircraft to reach and cross the sound barrier, achieving a top speed of 1,255 kmph and improving upon its own previous top speed of Mach 0.96, achieved in 2007. Test activities will continue until the top design speed of Mach 1.2 is reached.

This is the first time in 52 years than an aircraft designed and built entirely in Italy breaks the sound barrier. The first Italian aircraft to fly faster than sound was the Aerfer Sagittario II piloted by Lt Col Giovanni Franchini of the Italian Air Force's Experimental Test Unit, which on 4 December 1956 achieved Mach 1.1 at the end of a long dive at Pratica di Mare.

Since then, all supersonic aircraft built in Italy have been either foreign designs under licence � such as the famed F-104 Starfighter - or international collaborative products - like the Tornado multirole aircraft or the Eurofighter Typhoon.

From now on the M-346 will be officially known as Master, the new name given by the international contest launched by Alenia Aermacchi. This international name is the succinct embodiment of what the M-346 represents: the ideal tool to train the future jet pilots of the latest generation and at the same time the maximum level of training that a student can attain.

Source: The Aermacchi M-346 advanced trainer breaks the sound barrier. After 50 years an all-Italian aircraft flies at Mach 1

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