The crash is believed to have happened at around 1830hrs (local time), when the Eurofighter from 37° Stormo (Wing) was returning to its home airfield, Trapani Air Base, after a training flight with another Eurofighter. The multi-role fighter crashed into some fields approximately five miles away from Trapani. While the aircraft was written-off, no damage to residential areas was caused.
An AM-operated Leonardo HH-139A search and rescue (SAR) helicopter from the Trapani-based 82° Centro Combat SAR (Combat SAR Group) was deployed and a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) was released to close the airfield and operations in the surrounding area. As Trapani is also a civilian airport, multiple civilian flights had to divert due to the released NOTAM.
It is believed that up to two SAR helicopters, along with firefighters, and specialists from 37° Stromo carried out the search for the pilot. The AM released a statement at 1933hrs (local time) that the search was still ongoing despite media outlets falsely reporting the pilot was found alive by the HH-139A. At 0127hrs on December 14, the AM released another statement confirming that the body of the pilot had been found by the rescue teams near the wreckage of the aircraft.
Later in the morning of December 14, the AM released named the pilot lost in the crash as 33-year-old Capt Fabio Antonio Altruda of 18° Gruppo (Squadron), with the statement ending in: “The Air Force, in Fabio's honour, continues to carry on its duties of defending national and NATO airspace. A pilot never dies, he just flies higher.”
The cause of the crash is not yet known but there will be a full investigation into the cause of the crash. The serial number of the aircraft lost in this fatal attrition case is also yet to be confirmed.