Rolls-Royce has demonstrated fuel savings of more than 13 per cent after assembly and ground testing of the first enhanced T56 engines for a WP-3D Orion ‘Hurricane Hunter’ belonging to the US National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The ‘Series 3.5’ upgrade of the venerable T56 has been designed to not only reduce fuel consumption but also lower the engine’s turbine temperature, which has the effect of extending parts life and improving engine reliability. It does not require any aircraft or engine control system modifications, and can be installed as part of an engine overhaul.
“The T56 Series 3.5 engine enhancement has demonstrated significant fuel savings and we have now started discussions to insert this technology improvement into the US Air Force transport fleet,” said Rolls-Royce’s President Defense, Tom Bell in a statement. “A USAF study concluded this innovative technology would save the service $2 billion and extend the life of the fleet for decades.”
The modified WP-3D is expected to re-enter service early next year, while engine enhancement packages are slated for delivery to the USAF in 2016. The T56 powers all P-3 Orion variants, and all C-130 Hercules models prior to the C-130J.