Alenia Aermacchi has selected Williams International’s FJ44-4M turbofan engines to power the new M-345 high efficiency trainer (HET) aircraft.
The selection follows a process that includes detailed preliminary studies and culminates in the release of a formal request for proposal to several engine manufacturers worldwide.
The companies have already initiated joint activities to finalise the collaboration framework that will result in integration of the engine into M-345 HET aircraft over the next two years.
A fully aerobatic version of the FJ44-4A engine, the FJ44-4M is a modern two-spool co-rotating turbofan engine with medium bypass ratio, mixed exhaust, and high cycle pressure ratio.
Designed to provide between 1,500lb to 3,600lb of thrust with low fuel consumption, the engine leverages Williams track in maintenance services to help further reduce operating costs.
The power plant is scheduled to replace the existing P&W Canada JT15D engine in the test aircraft, which is likely to undertake first test flight in the final quarter of 2015, as reported by Flightglobal.
Launched at the Paris International Air Show in June 2013, the M-345 HET is a derivative of Alenia’s M-311 aircraft, and is primarily intended for the basic/advanced phase of the military pilot training syllabus.
The aircraft will feature advanced avionics, including a head up display in the front cockpit and a repeater in the rear cockpit, and multi-function digital displays for both pilot stations and hands on throttle-and-stick controls.
In June 2013, the company signed an agreement with Italian Defence Ministry’s National Armaments Directorate General Defence Secretary to define the operational requirements and to collaborate in the development of M-345 HET aircraft.
The aircraft is scheduled to enter into service at the end of 2017.
The aircraft is expected to replace the Italian Air Force’s current MB-339A fleet, and also re-equip its Frecce Tricolori aerobatic team.
Image: The M-345 high efficiency trainer in flight. Photo: courtesy of Alenia Aermacchi – A Finmeccanica Company.