Alenia Aermacchi selects engine for M-345 HET

During our visit to the Alenia Aermacchi plant last may, we already noticed the new M-345 HET in the Frecce Tricolori colours. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
During our visit to the Alenia Aermacchi plant last may, we already noticed the new M-345 HET in the Frecce Tricolori colours. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Alenia Aermacchi has selected the Williams International FJ44-4M to power its new M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer) aircraft. The FJ44-4M is the fully aerobatic version of FJ44-4A engine. It is a modern two–spool co–rotating turbofan engine with medium bypass ratio, mixed exhaust, and high cycle pressure ratio, according to the Italian aircraft builder.

Alenia Aermacchi and Willams International already started joint activities to finalize the collaboration framework, which will lead to integrate the engine into M-345 HET aircraft in the next couple of years. The M-345 HET represents the most recent solution proposed by Alenia Aermacchi for the basic/advanced phase of the military pilots training syllabus. The M-345 HET provides air forces with a very cost-effective solution, thanks to a high performance level coupled with significantly low acquisition and operational costs. Cost figures, in fact, are very similar or even lower than those of powerful turboprops now in the market which, although being of the same weight class of the M-345 HET and equipped with similar on-board systems, provide definitely lower performance and, consequently, lower training effectiveness.

In June 2013 Alenia Aermacchi and the Italian Defence Ministry signed an agreement to jointly define the operational requirements and to collaborate in the development of a new basic/advanced trainer aircraft, called M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer), conceived as a legacy of the S-211/M-311 trainer aircraft. Development is ongoing and the aircraft entry into service is envisaged at the end of 2017.

The M-345 HET includes the following technical data: Enhanced performance (speed, energy and maneuverability), improved maintainability and accessibility, design load factors of +7/-3.5 g with high fatigue life, latest generation turbofan Engine with reduced fuel consumption and maintenance tasks, state-of-the-art digital avionics and Embedded Training Simulation capability (HUD (Head Up Display) in the front cockpit, a HUD repeater in the rear cockpit, three Multi-Function Displays in each cockpits, HOTAS (Hands On Throttle-And-Stick) controls), excellent potential as Light Combat Aircraft and Life Cycle & Acquisition Cost comparable to a heavyweight turboprop aircraft.

It is very likely that the choice for the FJ44-4M is very much related to the first M-345 HET aircraft, which will re-equip the Italian national aerobatic team Frecce Tricolori. An visit to the Alenia Aermacchi facility last May, already showed a M-345 HET in full colours of the Italian national aerobatic team Frecce Tricolori. During the Farnborough International Airshow in July saw a unique mixed formation of Alenia Aermacchi aircraft, including the same M-345 HET in Frecce Tricolori scheme.

Source: Alenia Aermacchi, with additional reporting by editor Dennis Spronk

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