The US Navy plans to start flight testing a new Hamilton Sundstrand eight-blade equipped Northrop Grumman E-2C from August, with the intent of fitting the new NP2000 propeller to its existing fleet and improved new- build Hawkeye 2000 version of the airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft.


The NP2000 is intended to improve blade maintainability and reliability, rather than give any marked rise in engine powerplant performance or fuel consumption. The existing Hamilton Sundstrand four-blade propeller is one of the man-hour intensive systems on the E-2C and "we hope to see a 10-fold improvement in meantime between depot repair," says Lt Cdr Steve Schmeiser, NP2000 integrated product team leader.

The 4.7m (13.5ft)-long blades supplied by French subsidiary Ratier Figeac are a third-generation development of the six-blade system now fitted to the ATR 42/72-500 civil turboprop transports. The propeller is an all-composite design with a nickel leading- edge sheaf and each blade is an individual line replaceable unit.

Planning calls for a 12-15 month long flight test programme leading to an initial service delivery date of late 2001. As production of the 54460-1 blade has already ceased, the NP2000 will be fitted to the US Navy's 21 newly ordered Hawkeye 2000s as well as upgraded Group 2 aircraft. Both types are powered by the Rolls-Royce T56-A-427 turboprop engine.

Source: Flight International