Museo Volandia Adds Leonardo’s M-346 Prototype

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Aermacchi is one of Italy’s finest aircraft manufacturers. When they merged with Leonardo SpA in 2016 to become part of the multinational conglomerate’s Aircraft and Aerostructures Division the company was still hard at work developing the M-346 Master military jet trainer. With production of this aircraft now well underway, and its successful introduction in 2015 to several different air forces around the world, the prototype, which first flew in 2004 is now in retirement and recently went on loan as a static display to the Volandia Park and Flight Museum located near Milan in northern Italy. The (edited) press release covering the airframe’s recent arrival at Volandia continues…

The M-346 arrived from the Leonardo plant in Venegono Superiore, and will remain on loan to the museum for at least five years. The latest of the Leonardo line of trainers, the M-346 is considered by many to be the best available on the market. This is the second prototype of the three initial airframes, and the only one of these three remaining extant: a highly prestigious model that will enrich the already substantial collection of the Park and Flight Museum, just a step away from Malpensa international airport. The M-346 is the most advanced jet trainer in the world and has been designed for a wide range of training capabilities, long-term reliability and cost-effective operations. A central element of an Integrated Training System, the M-346 is the most modern solution to train the new generation of pilots. The aircraft is in service with the Air Forces of Italy, Republic of Singapore, Israel and Poland with 72 aircraft ordered to date.

The M-346 being unloaded into the museum’s grounds. In the background it is noticeable the original Caproni’s Chapel

“After the necessary reassembly and restoration work by our volunteers,”  explained Marco Reguzzoni, president of Volandia, “the M-346 will be exhibited at the entrance of the museum. An incredible piece to be proud of, and for this reason I want to thank our curator Maurizio Longoni, who followed the whole process, and Leonardo Velivoli for the loan; a partnership that we hope will continue on many other projects, and that does nothing but give prestige and prestige to our museum.”

Thanks to the great relationship with aviation-related industries located near the museum, Volandia now has the prototypes of several significant aircraft in its collection, including the SIAI-Marchetti S-211, Aermacchi MB-326, SIAI-Marchetti SF-260TP and Augusta-Westland AW-609.

The Augusta-Westland AW-609 tilt-rotor prototype at Volandia.

While founded just ten years ago in 2010, Volandia is already one of the most significant aviation museums in Italy, being located as it is within the original buildings of the legendary Caproni aircraft company. The museum is home to more than forty aircraft spanning from the very early days of flight until the present day. ‘Gianni’ Caproni himself tested some of his earliest designs on the museum’s grounds back in 1908.

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