Tim Ripley

The continuing delays in delivering the first Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules are a "great embarrassment", says company aeronautics sector president Micky Blackwell.

The company is working "with great vigour" to placate customers who are still waiting for their high technology transport aircraft.

Blackwell attributes the late delivery to a combination of four reasons:

Delays in manufacturing the glass for the new Hercules "glass cockpit" had set the programme back '"substantially".;

"The largest problem was that we terribly underestimated the Federal Aviation Authority requirements for certification," he says. "In previous Hercules upgrades we had no problems but the FAA looked at the C-130J as a new aircraft. That was a horse on us for not recognising that was the case;


"The wing dip was due to the new propeller which changed the aircraft's stall characteristics," he says;

"The most recent issue is the icing problem." Blackwell attributes this to the C-130J getting to a flight envelope that was not possible in the old H model Hercules.

The company is applying some standard fixes to solve the problem, he says.

To avoid the same problems being experienced on the up-coming C-27J upgrade, the company is running courses on the lessons learned on the C-130J.

The RAF is scheduled to get its first aircraft in July and the Royal Australian Air Force's aircraft will be two to three months late.

"We are down to the last small things and the customers understand the fixes," says Blackwell.

The hiccups with the C-130J programme mean Lockheed Martin is paying both compensation to customers and for the fixes to the aircraft, but Blackwell says the company will not lose money.

"If we realise the current order book, it will pay back the billings. We are in great shape."

Source: Flight Daily News