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Fri, Mar 18, 2022

Italian Jet Trainer Crashes on Test Flight

1 Deceased, 1 Injured in Aircraft Evaluation for Italian Air Force Plane

Italians in the region of Colico reported a large explosion earlier this week, followed by a large, continuous plume of thick black smoke from an impact site on the mountains nearby. 

Italian defense manufacturer and European aviation giant Leonardo confirmed reports of an incident involving one of their small jets bound for the Italian Air Force. An evaluation flight resulted in a fatality when the test pilots ejected for undisclosed reasons. The M-346 they were flying is Leonardo's small, lightweight trainer jet, currently in service with Italy, Singapore, Israel, and Poland. The flight began normally, according to the manufacturer, crewed by a Leonardo company test pilot and an outsourced British instructor. The duo completed their preflight inspection and pre-takeoff checklists with no anomalies reported. Leonardo said the takeoff was performed in accordance with company test policy, and the flight proceeded as intended soon after. 

Leonardo said the M-346 was taken up to "demonstrate specific capabilities for the aircraft" under a test program for the Italian Air Force, undergoing the same series of maneuvers and actions performed in prior test flights. The aircraft made its way to 8,500 feet before dropping off radar contact after an hour of flight. The crew ejected from the plane before it crashed into the Lecco mountainside. Emergency personnel recovered the remains of the British pilot from the wreckage, and found the surviving Italian pilot with serious injuries. He was rushed to a local hospital for treatment, as townspeople nearby watched the fiery remains continue to burn from the nearby areas. The aircraft wreckage has been recovered, with investigations now underway to ascertain the cause behind the crash. 



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