Pilots of the future: an international school in Italy

Pilots of the future: an international school in Italy

The new Leonardo – Finmeccanica Aermacchi M-346 trainer aircraft and the proven experience in training student pilots from all over the world make the 61° Stormo (Wing) of the Italian Air Force (ITAF) a training centre of excellence with international scope, intended to best train the pilots of the future. 

Based in Lecce-Galatina, (Puglia), a perfect location thanks to its climate and geographic position, the 61° Stormo is a cutting-edge facility for student pilots from Italy and elsewhere.

The school in Galatina is a real academy that includes classrooms, simulators, mission planning and debriefing stations, and thanks to the new training syllabus the it has been developed to anticipate activities envisaged at operational conversion squadrons as much as possible and to prepare pilots to operate next-generation multirole aircraft, keeping operating costs low thanks to the use of various simulation systems. 

The courses cover the basic and advanced pilot training phases within the Integrated Pilot Training System (IPTS) 2020.

(Photo Credit Aeronautica Militare - Troupe Azzurra)

The Aermacchi M-346, named T-346A by the ITAF, is an essential part of the Integrated Training Systems (ITS) for pre-operational training. In fact, the syllabus includes 180 training events, which envisage 50% of flight training on a real aircraft and 50% of ground based training with the aid of the simulator, thus allowing a significant reduction in costs.

Pilots on board the M-346 can develop the skills required to manage complex on-board systems, information and manoeuvrability of a high-performance aircraft, far before being assigned to operational squadrons.

(Photo Credit Aeronautica Militare - Troupe Azzurra)

The ITS ground segment, the Ground Based Training System (GBTS), includes a computer-based academic training system for self-learning, the Part Task Trainer (PTT) cockpit simulator to provide pilots with an 180° field of view and two Full Mission Simulators (FMS), advanced simulators providing pilots with 360° field of view, an ejection seat for a realistic training experience and the possibility of wearing a helmet equipped with a display integrated with the on-board instrumentation.

The key element of the integrated training system is the possibility of interconnecting several simulators to the aircraft in flight in real-time for assigned training sessions, during which one or more instructors within the simulator can perform joint missions with the students “up in the air”. 

Other than the M-346, the Italian Air Force has already found a replacement for the other trainer jet used for the basic and advanced phases of pilot training: the Aermacchi MB-339A. In fact, the new aircraft which will replace it will be the Aermacchi M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer), a jet in development that is expected to be operational from 2018

From Italy to the world

Many countries such as Kuwait, Austria, Greece, Argentina, France and Singapore have sent their students to the Lecce-Galatina flight school, while the Dutch Air Force and the Italian Air Force have signed a cooperation agreement that involves the on-site assignment of one instructor and two students. Poland was the latest international customer for the Aermacchi M-346, and the Polish pilots are already in training at the Lecce-Galatina Training Centre. Various European, Asian and South American Air Forces have shown interest in the school’s training activities, when visiting the air base and its facilities.

M-346: “game changer”

Currently considered the most advanced training aircraft in the world, the Aermacchi M-346 is a twin-engine, lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT), optimised for the final phase of training for future military pilots. Specifically designed as an aircraft with excellent flight characteristics, it primarily aims at providing future pilots with adequate training at reasonable costs. The aircraft, despite being simple, represents next-generation fighter aircraft and has been chosen for pilot training in combat aircraft for the next 15 years. The aircraft, already in use by the Italian Air Force and by the Singaporean and Israeli Air Force, enables extraordinary performance thanks to a cutting-edge man-machine interface, advanced digital instrumentation, high manoeuvrability, voice commands and helmet mounted display. The M-346 can also simulate flight characteristics of other aircraft and replicate a series of sensors and weapons as if they were actually installed on the plane, making pilot training as realistic and complete as possible. 

(Photo Credit Aeronautica Militare - Troupe Azzurra)

Leonardo 22/06/2016