Rolls-Royce said the first T56 engine enhancement package it assembled and ground tested for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s WP-3D Orion weather reconnaissance aircraft demonstrated a 13-percent reduction in fuel consumption, beating the required 7.9 percent. The manufacturer has also started discussions with the U.S. Air Force to introduce the “Series 3.5” engine enhancement on Air Force and Air National Guard C-130s.
The NOAA “Hurricane Hunter” turboprops will be the first aircraft to fly the T56 engine enhancement package, which the agency will begin flight testing in the coming months. NOAA expects the first Lockheed WP-3D Orion with the Series 3.5 enhancements to enter service early next year.
Last month, the U.S. Congress approved initial funding of $15.7 million to begin the T56 Series 3.5 technology insertion effort for the Air Force. According to Rolls-Royce, the engine enhancement package is in the final stages of completing requirements for qualification on the service’s C-130H transports, and it expects to begin deliveries in 2016. Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration granted certification for the commercial version of the T56 engine.
The engine enhancement can be installed as part of a conventional engine overhaul, and does not require any aircraft or engine control system modifications, Rolls-Royce said. In addition to reduced fuel consumption, the enhancement package enables T56 engines to operate at lower turbine temperatures, extending parts life and improving reliability by 22 percent.
In October, Rolls-Royce announced that it was awarded two contracts for T56 engine support from the U.S. government, worth up to $496 million in combined value. The Defense Logistics Agency awarded the company a $406 million contract to provide parts and field and engineering support of 1,000 C-130, P-3 and C-2 aircraft operated by the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection agency. The Navy awarded a separate contract for up to $90 million for engine support of the Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye, which is powered by twin T56-A-427 engines.