The Aermacchi M-346 Master advanced trainer breaks the sound barrier

The Alenia Aermacchi M-346 advanced trainer made its first supersonic flight, reaching 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.

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.


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