KC-767 performs special bio-containment flight to transport Italy’s first case of Ebola

The Italian Air Force carried out the first special biocontainment flight, to repatriate an Italian doctor who contracted Ebola virus working in Sierra Leone.

An Italian doctor, who developed a fever and was positive at the virus after working at a clinic located few miles west of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown, was repatriated with a special bio-containment flight on Nov. 24.

The doctor was isolated and transported on a Italian Air Force Boeing KC-767A, a dual role aircraft that can perform both the tanker and the strategic transport mission, operated by the 14° Stormo, that landed at Pratica di Mare airbase, near Rome, early in the morning on Nov. 25.

The Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) operates four such planes, one of those is currently supporting US-led campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Ebola flight

According to the Italian Air Force, in Europe, the ability to carry out transport of highly infectious patients through the use of special isolated stretchers is a peculiarity held exclusively by the Aeronautica Militare and UK’s Royal Air Force.

The Italian Air Force has developed the ability to perform aeromedical evacuation in bio-containment since 2005, establishing proper procedures and working closely with both the Ministry of Health and the Department of Civil Protection.

This capability is based on the use of special ATI (Aircraft Transport Isolator) stretchers, used to board the patient, and the smaller TSI (Stretcher Transit Isolator) terrestrial system, required to transfer the patient from the aircraft to the ambulance upon arrival.

Within the Italian Air Force, “bio-containment” missions can currently be conducted with C-130J Hercules, C-27J Spartan and KC-767 aircraft.

Ebola flight 2

Image credit: Italian Air Force


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. It seems that a Being 767 is an expensive aircraft to deploy intercontinental for transporting one infected person. It would probably be cheaper to contract with a charter and smaller aircraft with intercontinental range like has been done for patients brought to the US. But I suppose that someone was champing at the bit to use the military resources and gain experience for the personnel.

    Ebola has fallen off the front page, and some interesting stories don’t get as much press as 3 months ago. Doctors in Germany recently used a Hemopurifier made in the US in a dialysis system to save the life of an ebola patient. It is remarkable and promising technology for treatment of a number of medical issues, particularly viruses.


    • Are you sure you can get chartered flights for this kind of thing? I think I remember the US small jets that were used were owned by the CDC. Maybe Italy doesn’t have that sort of a resource?

      • I am absolutely certain beyond any debate. Phoenix Air of Georgia (KVPC) is the operator (aircraft N173PA), and the articles about the company and its charter business were all over the US media. In the past, PA won a contract to provide a standard Gulfstream on standby to CDC, but CDC personnel used it for frolic and detour instead of emergencies and it therefore became a political hot potato and generated considerable media reporting.

  2. Totally agree. Looks like quiet a waste of money. This plane could carry 20 isolation strachers not one.

    The only reason I see is that they wanted the quickest aircraft with a big cargo bay to move the stretcher with machinery as G222 and C130J may not have the same speed & range for the mission.

  3. Ma non si poteva usare al massimo un C-130J per questo intervento?? La solita melodrammatica italietta di spreconi e palloni gonfiati!

  4. The outbreaks have diminished and there have been no new cases in the US. Less about ebola is actually “news” now, and a number of newer things have popped up.

Comments are closed.