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C-130 Hercules

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By cathjames
Words 1020
Pages 5
Hercs: Obsolete or Still Strong?
Austin Carter
ASCI 419
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

In this research paper I will discuss the many costs and programs of sustaining an older aircraft. I will also go into detail about what a RAP (Repair Assessment Program) is and how they operate to maintain and keep these aircraft formidable. I will also talk about what the government plans to do with the existing C-130 fleets.

The C-130 has been a major part of the U.S. militaries forces for over 57 years. It was manufactured by Lockheed and entered the U.S. military in the 1950’s and has the longest continuous production run of any other aircraft in the U.S. military (Lockheed, 2015). The C-130 has the nickname “Hercules” because it is just that. The C-130 has been retrofitted and dozens upon dozens of modifications have been engineered so that this aircraft can perform just about any type of mission the military needs. Every branch of the military utilizes the C-130 in one way or another. There have also been many different types of models with the most recent being the “J” model. Although Lockheed Martin is still manufacturing these aircraft and the military is still purchasing them, there are still in service many aircraft that were manufactured in the 80’s. Of course the level of technology that was implemented into aircraft then and now are not even comparable. To have an aircraft that is not up to par technologically is unsafe for the crew and cannot be depended upon by allies awaiting its mission accomplishment. In order to keep these aircraft formidable many updates and modifications must be made the aircraft. The majority of these modifications are electrical. The basic structural design has not varied much over the years except to account for heavier engines, heavier payloads, etc. It is essential that the RAP (Repair Assessment Program) understands and is aware of the certain aspects and probable WFD (Widespread Fatigue Damage) that can occur on these aircraft as they age. I myself work in one of these RAP facilities on C-130 aircraft. We receive all kinds of models from fleets and military organizations from all over the United States. We will also periodically revive aircraft from the boneyard and sell them to other countries. We casually call this program/plane, an FMS (Foreign Military Sales) plane. Of course we leave much of the Secret and Top Secret electronics out of the flight deck. We do this because we are just selling the plane, not the technology that makes the United States the formidable superpower that we are. However, when we do take an aircraft out of the boneyard and fix it up to sell it to other countries we have to perform many extensive structural inspections and quite often major structural repairs. We ensure that the aircraft is flight worthy and it is tested numerous times before we give the final product over to the receiving country. The FAA has initiated many different safety programs that the C-130 has taken part in. Though not specifically tailored to the C-130 the AASR (Aging Airplane Safety Rule) is a safety rule that was published by the FAA on February 2, 2005 (Aging, 2015). The rule mandates that all aging aircraft must have certain inspections depending on what aircraft it is and according to how many years in service they have. This means that as the plane gets older the amount of inspections and extensiveness could increase. This rule also restricts any of these planes from flying unless the specified inspections have been complied with. There is an exception however. If the regular maintenance program that the aircraft falls under performs inspections in regards to damage-tolerance than that will suffice for the AASR inspections. The FAA passed this safety rule to ensure that the older aircraft are still airworthy and are safe for both crew and passengers. The FAA also requires that all inspections be performed by an actual FAA inspector or an FAA designee (Aging, 2015). The C-130 is a very old aircraft. Although the C-130J model is relatively new being released just a few years ago. The “J” model is the only C-130 model still in production and countries all over the world have ordered numerous planes from Lockheed Martin. The “J” model is a more advanced aircraft with larger engines and more lifting capacity. However, the maximum cargo limit in terms of cubic footage has not improved. There are still many vehicles and other forms of cargo that are not practical for the C-130 to transport and a larger aircraft would be better suited for this task. It’s true that the C-130 is much smaller in size when compared to aircraft such as the C-17 which is just about twice the size of a C-130, and the C-5 which is about three times the size of a C-130. There are many uses for a C-130. They carry cargo and troops all over the world to environments and areas where it is not feasible or not even possible for other larger cargo transport aircraft to go. The C-130 requires much less of a landing and takeoff area and can also land/takeoff on dirt runway strips whereas it’s larger counterparts cannot. Of course the C-130 is not going anywhere anytime soon because of the release of the “J” model just recently. It seems as though the C-130 is more of a tactical plane whereas the larger aircraft like C-17s and C-5s perform the operational type missions because they can transport large amount of cargo and large size cargo to a certain region and then the assets can generally move themselves after that point.

Aging Airplane Safety Rule. (2015). Retrieved November 2, 2015, from
Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules. (2015, October 22). Retrieved November 2, 2015, from…...

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