The 418th FLTS installs new NP-2000 eight blade props
on Wyoming ANG 187th AS C-130H #92-1536 2/21/08
Photo: Senior Airman Julius Delos Reyes
3/11/2008 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, CA. -- The 418th Flight
Test Squadron here replaced the C-130H Hercules' four-bladed
propellers with new eight-bladed NP-2000 propellers Feb. 21
in support of the New York Air National Guard's Operation Deep
Freeze mission to Antarctica.
The 418th FLTS team started installing the propellers on a
Wyoming Air National Guard C-130 in February, while a series
of testing will begin in April.
"The main purpose of replacing the propellers is to see
if we can increase the C-130's take-off performance," said
Donna Knighton, 418th FLTS performance and flying qualities
Currently, in addition to the four-blade propellers, the NYANG
C-130s are using jet assisted takeoff rockets to get off the
ice and snow-covered runways in Antarctica, Ms. Knighton said.
The NYANG is providing resupply missions on ski-equipped LC-130s
for the National Science Foundation and U.S. Antarctica operations.
These one-time use only JATO rockets are strapped to the back
of the aircraft to assist takeoffs, said Capt. Grant Mizell,
418th FLTS lead project test pilot. They are very heavy and
expensive to use.
Aside from changing the propellers, the 418th FLTS also replaced
the propeller pitch changing mechanical valve housing with an
electrical system to allow the propellers to respond faster,
Captain Mizell said.
"We chose to use the (WYANG) aircraft because they are
better suited for Edwards," he said. "The New York
planes are outfitted with skis and other equipment for Antarctica.
Once we prove this works, we'll retrofit the (NYANG) C-130."
With the new propeller, the testers are anticipating that it
will provide more thrust at lower air speeds, and the increase
in thrust will be enough to lift the aircraft off the ice, said
Capt. Justin Hsia, 418th FLTS engineer.
Compared to the current four-blade propellers, which are very
heavy and rectangular, the NP-2000 propellers are lighter and
shaped in a more aerodynamic fashion, Captain Mizell said.
"We will start with stall tests to see if the C-130 is
safe to fly," Captain Mizell said. "We will be stalling
the aircraft to see if the propellers cause any uncontrollable
motion in flight."
The second test will be minimum control airspeed tests, where
the testers will simulate an engine failure, causing one side
of the aircraft to pull more than the other side, Captain Hsia
said. The testers will determine if they can still control the
aircraft during this situation.
"The last test series will determine if our performance
increases," Captain Mizell said. "We will be doing
numerous takeoffs to see if the new propellers are producing
more power, and if it is worth the Air Force's money to upgrade
these new propellers."
The team will also be doing climb, acceleration, cruise, descent
and landing performance tests to characterize the NP2000 performance
across the entire aircraft envelope, Ms. Knighton said.
The NP2000 propellers were made by Hamilton Sundstrand, while
Rolls Royce provided the engine.
"This is going to be an extremely exciting flight test,"
Captain Mizell said. "We are not only going to develop
new capability to the Air Force, but we are also going to a
place where no one has gone before with this propeller. We are
increasing technology, not only for us but on a global scale.
Source: USAF/Edwards AFB Press Release by Senior Airman
Julius Delos Reyes