Aermacchi's modified SF260EA trainer developed to meet the requirements of the Italian air force made its debut flight from the company's Venegono site near Milan late last month.

Italy is acquiring 30 of the improved SF260 screening/primary trainers, with the deal including the provision of training and logistics support at the air force's Latina-based 70th Wing. The EA variant features a new avionics suite enabling fully instrument landings, with the upgrade providing improved cockpit ergonomics and better maintainability.

The first flight lasted roughly 1h 10min and was intended to check the functions of the aircraft's engine, flight controls and other airborne systems.

The first SF260EA will be delivered early next year, following the completion of development and certification activities. The last examples will be handed over in mid-2006, when the air force will retire 21 of its SF260AMs.

A total of 880 SF260s have now been sold to 27 air forces, with the type recording more than 1.8 million flight hours to date.



Source: Flight International