Alenia Aermacchi said operational M-346 advanced jet trainers were grounded as a precaution following the May 11 crash of a company-owned prototype in northern Italy. It was the second crash of an M-346 pre-production aircraft; the first jet crashed off the coast of Dubai in November 2011 after appearing at the Dubai Air Show.
In a brief statement, Alenia Aermacchi said the twin-engine trainer, registered as CMX617, experienced a “technical problem” about 20 minutes after takeoff from Turin-Caselle airport. The lone pilot on board ejected safely. The aircraft crashed in Val Bormida, between the provinces of Cuneo and Savona in northwest Italy. There were no injuries on the ground or damage to property.
The air forces of Italy, Singapore and Israel have ordered the M-346. Alenia Aermacchi has also paired with General Dynamics to offer the jet for the U.S. Air Force’s T-X jet trainer replacement program for 350 aircraft. Contractors have said that a T-X draft request for proposals may be issued later this year.
“The fleet of operational M-346, as per standard procedure, has been grounded pending a clarification of the causes of the mishap,” Alenia Aermacchi said. The company has established an internal technical commission to investigate the accident.