Ex-Qinetiq transport aircraft to return to flight in mid-2006 with TP400 powerplant

Marshall Aerospace of the UK has begun preparing a company-owned Lockheed Martin C-130K transport to support flight testing of the Airbus Military A400M’s Europrop International (EPI) TP400-D6 engine from mid-2006.

A400M big

Now in preparation at the company’s Cambridge airport site, the aircraft – formerly the UK’s lone Hercules W2 weather research platform – was acquired from Qinetiq earlier this year via the Ministry of Defence’s Disposal Services Agency. The aircraft amassed about 11,800 flight hours between 1975 and its retirement from service in 2001.

Delivered to Cambridge in late April, the test aircraft will receive one triple-shaft TP400 on its left inner wing station. At 5.33m (17.5ft), its eight-bladed Ratier-Figeac propeller is over 1m larger in diameter than the C-130’s standard 4.11m propeller. The 11,000shp (8,220kW) engine will undergo its first ground run in Germany on 31 August, says EPI, which this month took delivery of its first high-pressure compressor for the powerplant from Rolls-Royce’s Dahlewitz site near Berlin.

The C-130 flights will support development and integration of the TP400 on the A400M ahead of the engine’s certification in Oct­ober 2007. The ITP, MTU, Rolls-Royce and Snecma joint venture EPI says: “The Hercules flight tests will complement and confirm the results of engine tests in the high-altitude test facility at Saclay.”

The test aircraft’s distinctive nose boom and underwing and radar pods have been removed and the platform is undergoing scheduled maintenance due to conclude in October, says Marshall. A preliminary design review has been conducted and the company is now completing detailed design work for the engine’s installation, which will require modifications to the wing, fuselage, pylon and aircraft systems, it adds.


Source: Flight International