The first flight carried out by the Polish pilot, flying the new trainer jet, took place on 3rd March 2016. Lt. Col. Konrad Madej flew an Italian T-346A aircraft, with an Italian instructor onboard. The jet in which Madej flew belongs to the 61st Wing of the Italian Air Force. The take-off took place at the “Fortunato Cesari” airbase in Galatina, in the southern part of Italy. Pilots from Argentina, Austria, Greece, Kuwait, the Netherlands and Singapore are also being trained at the facility in question.
This is an important milestone for the whole programme which is being conducted in line with the contracted schedule. Up until now, the Poles have been using trainers and simulators which constitute a part of a complex training system, similar to the one acquired by the Polish Air Force. In this way, after two stages of ground training, the Polish pilots staying in Italy have begun the most important stage of their stay in Italy, namely training flights with the use of actual M-346 Master aircraft. After this stage is completed, the pilots will have gained credentials allowing them to train more instructors and students at the Polish Dęblin airbase.
Most probably, two out of six Polish Pilots will fly, along with the pilots of the Finmeccanica company, the first batch of the M-346 Master Advanced Jet Trainers. The jets are expected to land in Dęblin in November 2016. First four examples are being assembled, while the fuselages of the first two jets are already completed.
Back in 2014 Poland selected the M-346 Master jet to become the advanced jet trainer for the pilots of the mult-irole fighters.
Selection of this type of aircraft was motivated by the need to reduce the cost of flight training in Poland, meaning that the Air Force would resign from very expensive training organized in the United States. The Agreement assumes that eight aircraft will be acquired, with optional purchase of another four examples. Moreover, Poland also acquires a land-based training system featuring a variety of trainers and simulators.