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Paris Air Show 2019: Leonardo steps up IFTS programme

Italy’s Leonardo has launched a new phase of its international flight training school (IFTS), that will involve relocating Phase IV training on the M-346 aircraft to the Decimomannu air base in Sardinia.

Under the current evolution of the programme, a further four M-346A aircraft (designated T-346 in Italian service) will be deployed to the Galatina Air Force Base in south-east Italy to expand Phase IV training offerings to eight places from the middle of 2019.

The M-346 will form the backbone of the new Phase IV IFTS programme at Decimomannu. (Leonardo)

The M-346 will form the backbone of the new Phase IV IFTS programme at Decimomannu. (Leonardo)

From 2020, the arrival of M-345 aircraft at Galatina will help to build-out and consolidate Phase II and Phase III jet aircraft training, with the Phase IV training and M-346 aircraft to relocate to Decimomannu in 2021.

Under Leonardo’s plans, the Decimomannu air base will become an Advanced Training centre of excellence. Leonardo will be building up the facility as part of the expansion, constructing a new flight line and maintenance hangars, simulation centre developed with CAE, and student accommodation and recreational utilities.

Once it is at its peak, the IFTS is expected to operate 22 M-346 aircraft, with over 40 civilian and military instructor pilots, and conduct over 70 Phase IV courses per year. Leonardo is hoping to achieve over 8,000 flight hours per year once the site is fully established.

Reasons for the choice of Decimomannu include the base’s dual runway, dedicated airspace for training operations, and live-fire air-to-air and air-to-ground ranges. Decimomannu’s role as a historic hub for NATO training exercises also means that student pilots are able to readily merge with international exercises undertaken at the base.

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