Rolls-Royce and US Air Force launch fuel savings flight tests on C-130 fleet

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Rolls-Royce, the global power systems company, and the United States Air Force will soon begin flight tests of an engine upgrade for the T56 turboprop engine, which powers the C-130H transport aircraft. The Series 3.5 upgrade is designed to deliver both fuel savings and reliability improvements, as well as improved Life Cycle Costs. 

Rolls-Royce has delivered upgrade kits to be installed on an Air Force C-130H test aircraft, with flight tests scheduled to begin by mid-year. The enhancements use proven technologies from other Rolls-Royce commercial and military engines, including new blade materials and advanced turbine airfoil aerodynamic designs.

The engine upgrade program is expected to deliver significant benefits to the Air Force’s C-130H fleet, enabling the aircraft to continue operation until 2040 while delivering fuel savings of 8 per cent; along with improved reliability and performance. The Series 3.5 enhancement will also improve “hot and high” performance. Approximately 220 C-130H aircraft are eligible for upgrades.

“We recognize the US Air Force has a goal of improving energy efficiency, and Rolls-Royce has invested to help this valued customer meet its goal. In doing so, we improved engine reliability and performance, which will enable the Air Force to extend the life of its C-130 fleet for decades while potentially saving billions of dollars,” said Patricia O’Connell, President, Customer Business, Rolls-Royce Defense.

An Air Force analysis estimated long-term savings of $3.5 Billion from the Series 3.5 enhancements over the lifetime of the fleet. The engine upgrade can be accomplished as part of a conventional engine overhaul, and does not require any aircraft or engine control system modifications.

The engine upgrades will help the Air Force to achieve its goal of reducing consumption of aviation fuel by 10 per cent by 2015.

  1. Rolls-Royce is a world-leading provider of power systems and services for use on land, at sea and in the air, and has established a strong position in global markets - civil aerospace, defence aerospace, marine and energy.
  2. As a result of this strategy, Rolls-Royce has a broad customer base comprising more than 500 airlines, 4,000 corporate and utility aircraft and helicopter operators, 160 armed forces, more than 4,000 marine customers, including 70 navies, and energy customers in more than 80 countries.
  3. Annual underlying revenues were £11.3 billion in 2011, of which more than half came from the provision of services. The firm and announced order book stood at £62.2 billion at 31 December 2011, providing visibility of future levels of activity.
  4. Rolls-Royce employs 40,400 skilled people in offices, manufacturing and service facilities in over 50 countries. Over 11,000 of these employees are engineers.
  5. In 2011, Rolls-Royce invested £908 million on research and development, two thirds of which had the objective of further improving the environmental performance of its products, in particular reducing emissions.
  6. The T56 engine, rated at 3,250 to 5,800 shaft horsepower, holds the record as the longest-running continuous production engine in the large turboprop class, with over 50 years of success.
  7. The Series 3.5 engine enhancement kit is designed for retrofit into T56 turboprop engines powering military applications, such as the C-130H military transporter, the P-3 military maritime patrol aircraft and the commercial L-100 variant.

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