A pilot has died after an M-346 military jet trainer manufactured by Leonardo crashed during a test flight in Italy.  

The accident occurred at approximately 12:00 local time on March 16, 2022 near Como in northern Italy, the Italian company said in a statement.  

The aircraft was being flown by two pilots, comprising a Leonardo test pilot and an instructor pilot from an outside company. The instructor died in the accident.   

“Leonardo’s Top Management express their most heartfelt condolences for the loss of the pilot. Their deepest sympathies are with his family,” the company stated.  

The aircraft took off from Leonardo’s Venegono Superiore site in Varese at 11:00. Contact was lost at 11:35 and rescue teams were alerted.  

The company said it was too early to speculate on the possible causes of the accident. It declared that the aircraft had undergone technical checks prior to the flight being authorized. The checks were performed in “full compliance” with plans specified by aviation authorities, the company said.  

The test flight was due to demonstrate “specific capabilities” which had already been tested on previous flights, Leonardo added.  

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The Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) recently received its first Leonardo M-346 trainer aircraft.