British Test Pilot Is Killed After Military Jet Crashes Into Italian Mountain
A British pilot has died near Lake Como in northern Italy on Wednesday after the military jet he was testing crashed into a mountain.
During a test flight on Wednesday an M-346 jet trainer aircraft, manufactured by aerospace company Leonardo, crashed into Monte Legnone in the Lombardy region of Italy just before midday.
Both of the two pilots on board managed to eject before the crash, but only one survived. Dave Ashley, a 49-year-old British national instructor pilot was found dead. His co-pilot, 53-year-old Italian Giampaulo Goattin was rescued from the mountain and rushed to hospital.
The initial report made the suggestion that Mr Goattin had suffered serious injuries, however, it has now been confirmed that he has been receiving medical treatment for non-life threatening facial trauma.
Local residents reported hearing a loud bang when the jet crashed on the north face of the mountain, at a height of around 2,600 metres.
The jet had taken off from a military base at Venegono at 11 am, authorities on the ground lost contact with the pilots 35 minutes later, the first reports of a crash emerged at around midday.
Italian authorities and Leonardo have launched an investigation into the incident, with the aerospace, defence, and security firm said to be conducting an internal probe to ascertain what could have caused the crash.
Shortly after the crash, Leonardo released a statement saying: "Leonardo expresses its most heartfelt condolences ... [and] reserves the right to provide further updates on the event in the next few hours."
The crashed jet that was being flown was in post-production testing stage, Defense News reported, and was due for delivery to an "overseas customer".
Meanwhile, Leonardo said the tests the pilots were carrying out were "aimed at demonstrating specific capabilities", and had already been trialed several times previously.
In 2019, Mr Ashley had survived a similar incident after being forced to eject from a jet in Qatar. He reportedly broke his back, ankle, hip, and was in danger of losing an eye, but he made a full recovery.
Later on Wednesday, Leonardo said in a follow-up statement, "any theory on the possible causes of the crash remained premature".
They also added, "Leonardo's top management express their most heartfelt condolences for the loss of the pilot.
"His name was Dave Ashley, a married 49-year-old father of two. Deepest sympathies are with his family."
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