Rolls-Royce T56 Engine Enhancement for USAF Exceeds Expectations

A US Air Force C-130 takes off to begin flight tests at Edwards AFB with the Rolls-Royce T56 Series 3.5 engine enhancement. The Series 3.5 will offer significant fuel savings, improved reliability, and longer engine life to C-130 operators. (Photo: United States Air Force)

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RESTON, Va.--()--Rolls-Royce, the global power systems company, and the United States Air Force have completed flight testing for the latest enhancement for the T56 engine, and preliminary results have exceeded expectations for reduced fuel consumption and reliability improvements.

The Rolls-Royce T56 engine powers all legacy C-130 aircraft, with the Series 3.5 program the latest improvement aimed at enhancing performance. Recent flight tests with an installed Series 3.5 engine demonstrated a 9.7 percent reduction in fuel consumption and more than 22 percent increase in reliability, achieved through a significant reduction in operating temperatures.

Tom Hartmann, Rolls-Royce, Senior Vice President – Defence, said, “The flight test data from the USAF demonstrates even better results than were expected.”

“The USAF flight test team has confirmed that by inserting new technology we can bring dramatic improvements in fuel consumption and engine reliability to C-130 operators,” Hartmann said.

The C-130H test aircraft completed its flights in October at Edwards Air Force Base, CA. A final report on the test data is expected later in the year, with Accelerated Mission Testing under way at Rolls-Royce facilities in Indianapolis. Certification of the Series 3.5 by the FAA and qualification by the USAF are expected in 2013.

The Series 3.5 engine enhancement uses proven technologies from other Rolls-Royce commercial and military engines, including new materials for blades and vanes, and advanced aerodynamic designs for turbine airfoils. The Series 3.5 will also improve performance in ‘hot and high’ conditions, and dramatically reduce emissions.

The Series 3.5 engine enhancement will enable the USAF to continue to operate its C-130H fleet until 2040, and a USAF analysis estimated its long-term savings from the program could exceed $2 billion.

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 USAF C-130H models eligible for updating.

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.

Notes to Editors:

  • Rolls-Royce is a world-leading provider of power systems and services for use on land, at sea and in the air, and has established a strong position in global markets - civil aerospace, defense aerospace, marine and energy.
  • As a result of this strategy, Rolls-Royce has a broad customer base comprising more than 500 airlines, 4,000 corporate and utility aircraft and helicopter operators, 160 armed forces, more than 4,000 marine customers, including 70 navies, and energy customers in more than 80 countries.
  • Annual underlying revenue was $18.1 billion* in 2011, of which more than half came from the sale of aftermarket services. The firm and announced order book stood at $96.2 billion* at June 30, 2012, providing visibility of future growth.
  • Rolls-Royce employs over 40,000 people in offices, manufacturing and service facilities in over 50 countries. Over 11,000 of these employees are engineers.
  • In 2011, Rolls-Royce invested $1.4 billion* in research and development, two thirds of which had the objective of further improving the environmental performance of its products, in particular reducing emissions.
  • Rolls-Royce supports a global network of 28 University Technology Centers, which connect the company’s engineers with the forefront of scientific research.
  • The Group has a strong commitment to apprentice and graduate recruitment and to further developing employee skills.
  • In North America, Rolls-Royce employs more than 9,300 people in 66 locations in 26 states and 7 sites in 6 Canadian provinces. In the United States, Rolls-Royce employs more than 7,700 people in 26 states.
  • In the U.S., Rolls-Royce operates 15 manufacturing, assembly or test facilities in 10 states including California, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

* Assumed exchange rate: £1.00= $1.60


Rolls-Royce Defence
George McLaren, 317-366-9624
External Communications Manager

Release Summary

The Rolls-Royce T56 Series 3.5 engine enhancement will reduce fuel use significantly, while increasing reliability and extending engine life for C-130 operators.



Rolls-Royce Defence
George McLaren, 317-366-9624
External Communications Manager