USAF flies first C-130H equipped with T56 Series 3.5 engine upgrade

World Aviation Defense & Security News - United States
USAF flies first C-130H equipped with T56 Series 3.5 engine upgrade
The first U.S. Air Force C-130H aircraft to be fully equipped with the Rolls-Royce T56 Series 3.5 engine upgrade has completed its first flight, demonstrating significant improvement in fuel efficiency, lower operating temperatures and improved high-altitude performance, Rolls Royce announced on Thursday Dec. 1..
USAF flies first C 130H equipped with T56 Series 3 640 001
Preliminary flight data showed fuel efficiency improved by approximately 12 percent and turbine temperatures were more than 100 degrees Celsius lower. Reduced turbine temperatures increase parts life and lower operating costs significantly. The C-130H aircraft flown by the Wyoming Air National Guard (ANG) completed its first flight with four T56 Series 3.5 engines at the 153rd Airlift Wing at Cheyenne, WY, Regional Airport.

Phil Burkholder, Rolls-Royce, President Defense North America, said: “We congratulate the US Air Force and the Wyoming Air National Guard for achieving this significant milestone – first flight of a C-130H aircraft equipped with the Rolls-Royce T56 Series 3.5 engine upgrade. Rolls-Royce developed the upgrade to enhance mission capability – and by achieving fuel efficiency improvements and lower operating temperatures, the Series 3.5 upgrade delivers as promised.”

ANG Director Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice lauded the engine improvements in performance and reliability. Gen. Rice said: “The Series 3.5 engine upgrade certainly increased the performance on time and fuel flow and altitude. So it’s a great improvement as well for the capability and reliability of the engine from a maintenance standpoint. It was really impressive.”

Col. Kevin Campbell, Air National Guard, Director of Plans and Requirements, said: “We’re confident right now that we’ll see in excess of 12 percent fuel savings and upwards of 25 percent increased time on wing, which will reduce maintenance time. Those are substantial, and would provide a fairly rapid return on investment. This upgrade would pay for itself; the real question is ‘how fast?’ We’re pretty excited about it and think we’re going to hit it at about the five-year mark.”

The demonstration aircraft, assigned to the Wyoming Air National Guard, will be used in an operational utility evaluation in order to inform the decision to push the Series 3.5 engines to the rest of the ANG’s C-130H fleet.

The National Science Foundation/New York State Air National Guard LC-130H “ski bird” fleet will be among the first USAF C-130 aircraft to receive the T56 Series 3.5 engine upgrades in support of Operation Deep Freeze polar operations.

The Series 3.5 technology, which is based on proven advances from other Rolls-Royce engines, can be added during regular overhauls and requires no changes to the aircraft or controls. The 22nd Air Force Central Engine Repair Facility (CERF) at Little Rock Air Force Base completed the Wyoming T56 engine and nacelle build around the Series 3.5-configured engine power sections assembled by Standard Aero San Antonio (SASAI).

The Series 3.5 engine upgrade is already demonstrating success in Hurricane Hunter WP-3D aircraft of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), having completed more than 3,000 engine flight hours of operation and demonstrating fuel savings and other performance benefits similar to that now being seen by the US Air Force.

The Series 3.5 kit is certified and operating in C-130 and P-3 aircraft. Rolls-Royce operations in Indianapolis have enhanced production capability, and the kit is now available on the global market.