The first US 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.
Preliminary flight data showed fuel efficiency improved by approximately 12% and turbine temperatures were more than 100°C 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 Regional Airport, Wyoming.
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.”
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% fuel savings and upward of 25% increased time on wing, which will reduce maintenance time. Those are substantial, and would provide a fairly rapid return on investment.”
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 StandardAero San Antonio, Texas.
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.
December 6, 2016