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NASA opens P-3C market for propeller upgrade

A NASA-owned Lockheed P-3C will become the fourth aircraft type to be upgraded with an eight-bladed propeller system developed by UTC Aerospace Systems (UTAS), opening a potential new retrofit market.

An agreement with NASA announced on 10 February calls on UTAS to deliver the NP2000 propellers and electronic propeller control system for the four-engined P-3C by the end of 2017, the company says.

The NP2000 will preface a four-propeller system called the 54H60 that is already installed on the Rolls-Royce T56 engines on the P-3C.

The eight-bladed system is designed to improve reliability, and reduce vibration and noise, UTAS says. Michel Ferey, Propeller Systems president and general manager, calls the NP2000 a “50-year jump” in propeller technology for the P-3, which entered service in 1962. NASA acquired its lone example in 1991 to support science missions.

The NP2000 is already flying on the Northrop Grumman E-2C/D and C-2A aircraft, as well as Lockheed Martin C-130Hs flown by the US Air National Guard and the Saudi air force.

With the NASA agreement, UTAS is now funded to certificate the NP2000 on a fourth aircraft type with dozens of models still in operation in the US and globally.

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