Sigonella, between history and future

We attended the ceremony for the change of command of one of the most important Air Force bases, in Catania, where a temporary historical exhibition was also set up.

Sep 2022

The relationship between Avio Aero and the Italian Air Force is rooted in the company's 110-year history, so the Armed Forces, and the technical and logistical support provided to it, has always been a source of pride. Among the main centers for these activities is the Sigonella Air Base (Catania, Italy) which is home, among others, to the 11th Aircraft Maintenance Department (RMV, in Italian), where technical and maintenance operations are carried out on a part of the fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules (stationed at the 46th Airborne Brigade in Pisa) and the ATR P-72A(supplied to the 41st Squadron operating from Sigonella).

This deep bond was sealed with the Air Force and the base by the presence of our personnel at the handover ceremony for the post of Director of the 11th RMV between Col. Riccardo Salis and Col. Lorenzo Rispoli, held on last September 15th in the presence of Brig. Gen. Cristiano Bandini, commander of the 2nd Division of the Air Force Logistics.

The military base at Sigonella is one of the most important and strategic bases for the Armed Forces because its task is to provide logistical-administrative support and technical-operational services to national and international military Units and Branches deployed at the airport, or in transit. In addition, Sigonella is responsible for air traffic control across an area that covers the skies over eastern Sicily and the surrounding seas, including the civilian airport at Fontanarossa-Catania, one of the busiest in Italy.

Stationed at Sigonella are: the 41st Antisubmarine Warfare Wing (equipped with P-72A aircraft), the 61st Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron with Predator A drones, the 304th Infrastructure Technical Service Detachment, the 215th Security Corps, the Telecommunications Squadron/Signals Corps Detachment, as well as the Carabinieri Heliborne Squadron, the Carabinieri detachment of the Italian Air Force, and the Antisubmarine Analysis Assessment Section (SVAAS) of the Italian Navy. In addition, Sigonella has hosted the U.S. Naval Air Station since 1959 and the NATO Alliance Ground Service Force since 2015, as well as European assets in a wide variety of operations.

A C130-J of Aeronautica Militare during landing.

Avio Aero's presence at Sigonella is dedicated to technical and logistical support for the Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 engines that power the fleet of C-130J Super Hercules. "We will have to operate with increasing speed in our response times, using modern support technologies, and we must be the creators and promoters of a new way of performing and providing technical and managing capacity for the lines we are responsible for, in order to guarantee the operational capability demanded by the Armed Forces, the Ministry of Defense and the country," stated Colonel Rispoli in his remarks.

The ceremony that took place on 15 September also marked the opening of the exhibition space “Air - Where Flight Begins”, which involved the contribution of Avio Aero - in this case through display panels and historical volumes for the local library. The exhibition was created to try and convey the awareness that flight, even in its futuristic design, is based on manual labor and human ingenuity. A look at the past that addresses the future of aviation and sees man as its leading actor for development and innovation.

“Our goal is to continuously innovate, improve and make all the technical and maintenance support operations on the engines of a strategic fleet (such as the engine of the C-130J) more efficient," explained Salvatore Sisinni, Senior Commercial Proposal Director of Avio Aero. "The contract signed a few months ago with the Air Force for the support of the fleet of Super Hercules based at the 46th Air Brigade and whose contractual management is in charge of the 11th RMV at Sigonella represents both the recognition of our capabilities and the great relationship of trust we have built with the Armed Force over all these years."

A moment from the inauguration of the historical exhibit at the Sigonella base.

As a result, Avio Aero has become "the reference partner for the 11th RMV for the management of contractual activities, through which maintenance and support for the AE2100D3 engines is ensured," Sisinni continued. “Through years of collaboration, our understanding and effectiveness have grown more and more, ensuring the levels of performance required to maximize the operational efficiency of the fleet deployed at the 46th Airborne Brigade in Pisa.”

The company's future objectives, with regard to the service and maintenance of Air Force aircraft engines, are “to continuously consolidate and develop the synergy and collaboration with the entire Ministry of Defense through the improvement of our industrial performance and the increased presence of our people at the operational sites,” explained Massimiliano Corsi, Leader of Avio Aero's military division. “The aim is to consolidate ourselves as a strategic partner as well as a service provider. This strategic role will mean we are even more recognized as the point of reference, even for those engines that are not currently part of our portfolio.”

In order to improve performance, “the company has invested in numerous initiatives as a way to offer the Air Force a service that is increasingly efficient and state of the art. The invaluable collaboration of the Italian Force combined with the use of Lean tools has led to the development of new standards for maintenance and processes, paving the way for multi-year maintenance contracts based on fleet availability,” added Corsi.

From the left, Salvatore Sisinni, Colonel Riccardo Salis and Alberto Natale.

"Our goal is to continuously innovate, improve and make all the technical and maintenance operations on the engines of such a strategic fleet more efficient"

The most striking example provided by Corsi is the technical-maintenance support contract signed for the AE2100D3 engine: "Our task and aim are to extend these positive experiences to other programs, starting with the EJ200 fleet. This can only bring great benefits to both Avio Aero and the Air Force.”

A well-established, historical and harmonious relationship which is interwoven with the history of the Italian Air Force, soon to celebrate 100 years since its creation on 28 March 1923. Past decades which have seen Avio Aero by its side supporting operational requirements and technological development, for a history that is destined to flourish in the years to come. 

Ceremony and aircraft images in page are courtesy of Aeronautica Militare and Sigonella Air Force base.