The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) WP-3D "Hurricane Hunter" will be the first aircraft to fly with Rolls-Royce's T56 series 3.5 engine enhancement package.
Under a two-year contract, Rolls-Royce will provide Lockheed Martin
(manufacturer of the WP-3D) with 10 engines for two aircraft and spares. According to Rolls-Royce, the engine enhancement package demonstrated a 10 percent reduction in fuel burn during recent flight testing on C-130 aircraft.
The upgraded T56 engine operates at lower turbine temperatures, extending parts life and improving reliability by 22 percent, Rolls-Royce said. The U.S. Air Force has estimated the T56 series 3.5 engine will save $2 billion on fuel.
“Many hurricane missions are into storms far from home base, so fuel-efficiency and engine reliability are critical. The anticipated fuel savings and reliability provided by the Series 3.5 engine enhancement package could mean getting an extra pass through the storm instead of heading back to base,” said Devin Brakob, an aircraft specialist with the NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operation's Platform Acquisitions Division.