Alenia Aermacchi's upgraded turboprop – the SF-260TP primary and basic trainer- now equipped with a glass cockpit, an enhanced multi-spectral vision system and an upgraded air conditioning system has completed its first flight in Venegono, Italy.
The aircraft is in final testing stages, and is being prepared for demonstration flights for a number of potential customers. The type has a fine heritage. It was designed by Stelio Frati, and first flew almost 50 years ago. It has undergone improvements since SIAI Marchetti sold to Aermacchi in 1997. The military versions are popular with smaller air forces, which can also arm it for use in the close-support role.
The original analogue aircraft has been used by Libya, Zimbabwe and Birkina Faso.
But the new upgraded version could find new markets in Africa and some parts of the Middle East.
The SF-206 turboprop version, in its new configuration, represents a particularly cost-effective versatile solution, able to operate in severe weather conditions, and Alenia says it is capable of filling a variety of military primary and basic training roles.
The aircraft is equipped with new digital avionics that will increase the SF-260’s competitiveness and will allow the aircraft to play a greater role in the global trainer market.
The new cockpit’s layout, based on an integrated digital avionic system, features two large LCD displays (6x8 inches) and one Control Display Unit (CDU) that manage several of the aircraft’s functions. Two Integrated Flight Displays (IFD) incorporate radio, VHF Omnidirectional Range radio-guide (VOR), GPS, and Inertial Platform and Air Data and ensure complete redundancy and top safety for pilots.
The new digital avionics allow for many functions including:
• Presentation of primary flight data (primary flight display) to pilots.
• Radio-guided navigation and GPS autonomous navigation
• Digital moving map
• Flight management system
• Aircraft checklist display
• Multi-spectral vision systems obtained through the integration of an infra-red television camera
• Downloading of flight data for post-flight debriefs
The aircraft’s enhanced vision system includes an infra-red television camera installed on the wing leading edge, allowing pilots better visibility at night and in adverse weather conditions.
In addition to the new cockpit digital avionics and the EVS, a modern air conditioning system is integrated on the aircraft that guarantees greater comfort for the crew. The new system, characterised by a high cooling capability, is completely electrical and is operated by a digital control display on the instrument panel.
The SF-260 is the best seller in the primary training market, with over 900 units delivered worldwide. The market interest for the aircraft is still high, as an undisclosed air force who is already SF-260 customers, having recently ordered 12 additional aircraft.