Enhanced T56 Engine Could save Billions in C-130H Operating Costs

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C130H engine test
A C-130H takes off from Edwards Sept. 14 with an enhanced Rolls-Royce engine. (U.S. Air Force photo by Edward Cannon)

The US Air Force began testing a C-130H Hercules  tactical transport aircraft powered by an enhanced T-56 engine. According to the manufacturer, Rolls-Royce, the Series 3.5 Engine Enhancement is designed to deliver fuel savings and reliability improvements, resulting in improved life cycle costs. The first C-130H test aircraft began flying recently at the US Edwards Air Force Base, CA. The Series 3.5 Engine Enhancement program is expected to enable the USAF to continue to operate its C-130H fleet until 2040, and a USAF analysis estimated its long-term savings from the Series 3.5 enhancements could reach $2 Billion.

The T56-A13 Series 3.5 improvements reduce fuel consumption by 7.9 percent, improve hot day performance by increasing maximum engine torque limit to 48 degrees celsius and improve turbine life by reducing inlet temperature by 82 degrees celsius.

The Series 3.5 Engine Enhancement has already demonstrated greater than 8 percent fuel burn improvement in ground tests, using proven technologies from other Rolls-Royce commercial and military engines, including new blade and vane materials and advanced turbine airfoil aerodynamic designs. The Series 3.5 will also improve performance in ‘hot and high’ conditions.

Tom Bell, Rolls-Royce, President, Customer Business – Defense, said, “We look forward to carrying out flight tests to confirm what we have already demonstrated in the test cell – significant savings in fuel costs, improved reliability and performance. Rolls-Royce has invested to help the US Air Force and other operators around the world meet their goal of reducing fuel costs, while also extending the life of the C-130 fleet and potentially saving billions of dollars.”

The improvements

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 C-130H models eligible for upgrades.

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.

C130H engine test
A C-130H takes off from Edwards Sept. 14 with an enhanced Rolls-Royce engine. (U.S. Air Force photo by Edward Cannon)