Rolls-Royce, the global power systems company, and the United States Air Force have completed flight testing for the latest enhancement for the T56 engine, and preliminary results have exceeded expectations for reduced fuel consumption and reliability improvements.
The Rolls-Royce T56 engine powers all legacy C-130 aircraft, with the Series 3.5 program the latest improvement aimed at enhancing performance. Recent flight tests with an installed Series 3.5 engine demonstrated a 9.7% reduction in fuel consumption and more than 22% increase in reliability, achieved through a significant reduction in operating temperatures.
Tom Hartmann, Rolls-Royce, Senior Vice President – Defence, says, “The flight test data from the USAF demonstrates even better results than were expected.”
“The USAF flight test team has confirmed that by inserting new technology we can bring dramatic improvements in fuel consumption and engine reliability to C-130 operators,” Hartmann says.
The C-130H test aircraft completed its flights in October at Edwards Air Force Base, CA. A final report on the test data is expected later in the year, with Accelerated Mission Testing under way at Rolls-Royce facilities in Indianapolis, IN. Certification of the Series 3.5 by the FAA and qualification by the USAF are expected in 2013.
The Series 3.5 engine enhancement uses proven technologies from other Rolls-Royce commercial and military engines, including new materials for blades and vanes, and advanced aerodynamic designs for turbine airfoils. The Series 3.5 will also improve performance in ‘hot and high’ conditions, and dramatically reduce emissions.
The Series 3.5 engine enhancement will enable the USAF to continue to operate its C-130H fleet until 2040, and a USAF analysis estimated its long-term savings from the program could exceed $2 billion.
The engine improvements can be accomplished as part of a conventional engine overhaul, and do not require any aircraft or engine control system modifications. Each C-130 aircraft has four Rolls-Royce T56 engines, with approximately 220 USAF C-130H models eligible for updating.
The Series 3.5 program will help the Air Force to achieve its goal of reducing consumption of aviation fuel by 10% by 2015.