Farnborough Air Show

Marshall takes control of RAF Hercules support

 - November 15, 2006, 10:18 AM

Marshall Aerospace (Hall 4 Stand A12) comes to the Farnborough airshow fresh from winning a £1.52 billion ($2.87 billion) contract to maintain 24 Lockheed C-130K and 25 C-130J Hercules transports flying with Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF). Over the next 18 months, responsibility and related risk for support will pass from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to private industry, which must guarantee C-130J and C-130K availability throughout the types’ remaining operational life–until 2030 for the younger C-130J model.

“We must have a certain number of aircraft ready to fly on any day, or incur penalties,” Marshall’s marketing and business development director Mick Milne told Aviation International News. “It will be challenging, but is achievable.” Replacing multiple contracts with various agencies, the new arrangement will save money while improving operational readiness, according to the MoD, which projects savings of more than £170 million ($322 million) during 2007-2030. Marshall has supported UK Hercules acquisition and operations since being appointed Lockheed’s first offshore C-130 service center in 1966.

Called Hercules integrated operational support, the work will be provided in partnership with the MoD’s Hercules integrated project team, for which Marshall is prime contractor (alongside airframe manufacturer Lockheed Martin UK and engine supplier Rolls-Royce). Responsibility for C-130J structural and nonintegrated systems support will be transferred from Lockheed Martin to Marshall.

The partners will perform major and minor maintenance work at Marshall’s Cambridge headquarters in eastern England, which has simultaneous capacity for seven Hercules and additional modification activity. Working with military personnel, they also will provide “forward support” primary servicing at the RAF’s Lyneham transport base in Wiltshire, said Milne.

Lockheed Martin will manage supplies, providing C-130J specific items and serialized parts for both models, while Marshall will provide non-serialized spares. Rolls-Royce will look after deep engine maintenance, managing the Lyneham propulsion repair facility and participating in both technical- and close-support teams.

New Test Center Established

Marshall Test Services, a new division of Marshall Aerospace, has set up a purpose-built facility to accommodate testing of full-scale aerostructures. Initially, it is being used for C-130J wing fatigue trials that will replicate loads encountered in typical operations, based on strain-gauge results from aircraft in service. The new-build facility also houses a C-130K fuselage fatigue test rig, together with specialized equipment for material, proof-loading, environmental, electrical, instrument and nondestructive testing, as well as aircraft calibration. Marshall previously has conducted some 110,000 hours of C-130K testing.

Early next year, Marshall expects to deliver the first of four Royal Netherlands Air Force C-130Hs following installation of upgraded cockpits. Work is under way on the aircraft, of which two are ex-U.S. Navy aircraft that have been recovered from storage in Arizona.

Modifications on the Dutch aircraft include design, integration, installation and testing of avionics and flight-management systems and equipment to provide communication/navigation/surveillance-air traffic management (CNS-ATM) compliance and to meet civil and military requirements. The cockpit upgrade includes weather radar; engine instruments; lightning sensor; terrain avoidance and collision alert, enhanced ground proximity warning and emergency locating transponder systems; and a moving map to aid situation awareness. The company is also discussing various modification programs with “four or five” other Hercules operators, said Milne.

At the same time, Marshall also is involved in Canadian Department of National Defence CC-130 Hercules optimized weapons-systems support under a late-2005 contract awarded to the Herc Solutions industry team, which is led by Cascade Aerospace and also involves Derco Aerospace and Standard Aero of the U.S. The team will support 32 CC-130s for at least five years, with optional extensions that could run until 2035.

Qantas Model

Marshall is providing program management, engineering, publications and technical information support, with other partners being responsible for aircraft maintenance and material support. The UK company’s participation is similar to that provided as part of Qantas Airlines’ contract support for Royal Australian Air Force C-130s.

With nearly 70 years’ experience in civil and military aviation support, the company has launched Marshall Solutions, a con-sultancy to provide engineering advice to other aerospace organizations. It has completed an initial project, which Milne would not identify, and is working with several airlines on specific work prog-rams, including possible establishment of maintenance facilities, infrastructure and production.

Marshall Aerospace also is midway through a critical design review of its C-130 Hercules flying testbed that will be used for the Airbus A400 military transport’s TP400 turboprop engine. It has acquired the sole Hercules W.2, which the company had previously modified for UK meteorological research, and plans to install a prototype TP400 in the No. 2 engine position.

The company is currently installing instrumentation and should receive the test engine at the end of this year. Some 150 hours of ground and air testing of the engine and related instruments is expected to start in about a year.

Other current projects include manufacture of fuel tanks for the prototype Boeing P-8A U.S. Navy patrol aircraft. Having produced long-range fuel tanks for Boeing 747-400ER, Marshall is developing similar equipment for the 777-200LR. It recently began talks with U.S. fixed-base operator Landmark Aviation about a possible European joint venture.