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Rolls-Royce T56 engine enhancement for USAF C-130 shows 9.7% reduction in fuel consumption, 22% increase in reliability

Rolls-Royce, the global power systems company, and the United States Air Force USAF) have completed flight testing for the latest enhancement for the T56 engine for the C-130, with preliminary results exceeding expectations for reducing 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.

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. 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 percent by 2015.



Aerodynamic tweaks can reduce fuel consumption by similar amounts in light aircraft.  If these measures have not been applied to the C130 fleet, perhaps the improvements can exceed 10%.


At what cost.


Private owners of light aircraft buy these modifications for the improvements in fuel economy and speed, and they fly a lot fewer hours than the military.

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