Alenia Aermacchi made the first flight of an SF-260TP primary and basic trainer with a glass cockpit from its factory at Venegono, Italy. The aircraft also carried an upgraded air conditioning system and an infrared TV camera on the wing leading edge that provides the pilots with an enhanced vision system at night or in poor weather.
The Italian company said that the new digital avionics will increase the SF-260’s competitiveness in the global trainer market. The cockpit layout features two six- by eight-inch LCD displays and one control display unit, providing such functionality as display of primary flight data; radio-guided and GPS autonomous navigation; digital moving map; flight management system; aircraft checklist display and downloading of data for post-flight debriefing. Two integrated flight displays incorporate radio, VOR, GPS, and inertial platform and air data, to ensure complete redundancy.
Last July, Alenia Aermacchi delivered the 900th SF-260. It is the best seller in the primary trainer market, having been ordered by 27 air forces and several flying schools, plus aero clubs and private customers. An armed version for counter-insurgency operations is in service with several air forces. Seventeen of the 27 air forces have placed repeat orders, including one that recently placed a new order for 12. The type made its first flight in 1966. Today, it is produced in two versions, the piston-engine SF-260E and the turboprop SF-260TP. According to Alenia Aermacchi, both versions are the highest-performing aircraft in their respective classes.