The US Air Force's (USAF) C-130H aircraft equipped with a Rolls-Royce T56 Series 3.5 engine upgrade has completed its first flight.
Powered by four T56 Series 3.5 engines, the aircraft demonstrated significant improvement in fuel efficiency, lower operating temperatures and improved high-altitude performance during the flight.
The aircraft was piloted by the Wyoming Air National Guard (ANG) and the flight was conducted at the 153rd Airlift Wing at Cheyenne Regional Airport in Wyoming.
According to the data collected during the flight, the aircraft's fuel efficiency improved by approximately 12% and turbine temperatures were more than 100°C lower.
Rolls-Royce North America defence president Phil Burkholder said: “Rolls-Royce developed the upgrade to enhance mission capability, and by achieving fuel efficiency improvements and lower operating temperatures, the Series 3.5 upgrade delivers as promised.”
The Series 3.5 technology can be added during regular overhauls, without making changes to the aircraft or controls.
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', Rolls-Royce said.
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 to support Operation Deep Freeze polar operations.
The Hurricane Hunter WP-3D aircraft of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), fitted with the engine upgrade, has already completed more than 3,000 engine flight hours of operation and demonstrating fuel savings.
Image: The C-130H aircraft flown by Wyoming ANG completed its first flight with four T56 Series 3.5 engines. Photo: © Rolls-Royce plc.