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First Flight for USAF C-130H with Rolls-Royce Series 3.5 Engine Upgrade

Better fuel efficiency and operating costs

Flown by the Wyoming Air National Guard, the first USAF C-130H HERCULES fully fitted with the Rolls-Royce T56 Series 3.5 upgrade recently achieved its first flight at Cheyenne Regional Airport.

The flight confirmed an approximate 12% improvement in fuel efficiency and a reduction in turbine temperature of over 100°C, translating to increased component life and significantly lower operating costs.

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 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 can be added during regular overhauls and requires no changes to the aircraft or controls. The 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 USAF.

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