Tag Archives: SF-260

What do a multi-million fifth generation fighter jet and an SF-260 light training aircraft have in common?

Here’s the F-22, a fifth generation fighter jet:

And here’s the SF-260EA of the Italian Air Force, a light aircraft used for initial pilot training:

What do they have in common? Both have had problem with carbon monoxide.

The stealthy F-22 Raptor, the US Air Force most advanced fighter, was grounded (in what is the longest full fleet grouding of recent aviation history) due to carbon monoxide entering the cockpit via the aircraft’s oxygen system, the same type of problem affecting the SF-260EA, the latest version of the famous Italian trainer.

The US fighter was grounded on May 3, 2011, after 14 incidents in which pilots suffered hypoxia-like symptoms. Hypoxia is  a condition of inadequate oxygen supply that can have fatal consequences.

Hypoxia can be caused when carbon monoxide generated by the engines enters the cockpit because of the placement of the aircraft air intakes or of particular operating procedures, like those used at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, where the majority of the incidents have occurred, and where the aircraft perform the start up procedure of the engine inside the shelters, because of the cold temperatures. Exhaust gases then could be sucked back by into the engines and enter the On-Board Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS).

While the problem affecting the F-22 is still under evaluation, the SF-260EA has been fixed, even if the type was never interested by a fleet-wide stand down.

The carbon monoxide into the cockpit was one of the minor issues on the “260”. Amount was limited, leakage sporadic, and pilots got used to it quite fast.

In June 2009, I flew the SF-260 during an orientation flight and experienced hypoxia symptoms caused by exhaust gases entering the cockpit. Headache, fatigue and nausea leading almost to loss of consciousness. “That’s normal” explained the Instructor Pilot who flew with me “local instructors and student pilots are used to the gases but people who don’t fly too often with this type of aircraft, can experience this kind of symptoms, especially when outside temperature is extremely hot and we have to use the onboard air conditioning system to make the cockpit more comfortable”.

Even if sucked carbon monoxide into the SF-260 cockpit didn’t cause any serious aviation safety issue on the fleet, the problem has been fixed. In the meanwhile, some 160 F-22 Raptors remain grounded indefinitely and their pilots, despite ongoing simulator training, are quickly losing their currencies.

Exclusive pictures: first Italian Air Force SF-260EA in new colour scheme

The SF-260EA of the Latina-based 70° Stormo of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force, ItAF) will soon receive a high-visibility colour scheme since the previous grey one made rejoin and formation flight a little too difficult for student pilots.


Today the first aircraft in the new colour scheme (MM55119 “70-26”) rolled-out at Latina and Giovanni Maduli was there for this site to take the following exclusive pictures. The above image shows the same aircraft in the previous colour scheme.

Exclusive pictures: two Tunisian SF-260 deployed to Latina airbase for a Sqn Exchange

An interesting one-way Sqn Exchange between the Aeronautica Militare Italiana and the Al Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Jamahiriyah At’Tunisia (Tunisian Air Force), took place from Jun 30 to Jul 4. Two SF-260W of the 14 Sqn of the Tunisian Air Force from Sfax and 10 military, deployed to Latina to cooperate with the 207° Gruppo of the 70° Stormo at Latina, equipped with the new SF-260EA in order to share procedures, know-how and experiences. The Tunisian aircraft involved were: W41405 “TS-TBE” and W41503 “TS-TBP”.
Giovanni Maduli went to Latina on Jul 3 and took the following exclusive pictures of the Tunisian and Italian SF-260s.