by Senior Airman Ned T. Johnston
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
6/19/2015 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stationed on MacDill
Air Force Base, Florida, installed upgraded engines on one of their two
Lockheed WP-3D Orion aircraft as part of a larger upgrade project for
the two planes June 3, 2015.
In an effort to stay ahead of the technological curve and to ensure they
will be able to fulfill their vital environmental intelligence
gathering mission moving forward, NOAA initiated a $42 million project
to upgrade their two aircraft. The project includes the Rolls-Royce T-56
Series 3.5 engine upgrade already implemented on one of the aircraft
and future upgrades to the wings and avionics systems of both planes.
"With an infusion of Hurricane Sandy Supplemental funds for capital
improvements to the NOAA WP-3D, NOAA and Rolls-Royce were in a unique
situation to bring the Series 3.5 Engine Enhancement package to the P-3
community, allowing NOAA to realize future fuel savings as well as
increase the performance of our aircraft," said Cdr. Devin Brakob, NOAA
platform acquisition manager.
The new Rolls-Royce engines have shown a nearly 10 percent fuel savings,
which not only reduces fuel costs, but also allows more time in the air
to gather essential research and forecast data or enables the planes to
carry heavier payloads. The engines do this by having improved blades,
vanes and seals compared to later model engines.
"With these new engines and other upgrades yet to come to the planes,
we'll be able to keep these planes relevant for years to come. We're
going to be able to fly further, faster, higher and longer making us
that much more efficient and effective when getting the job done," said
NOAA didn't waste any time waiting around to utilize their plane's new capabilities.
"Right now, the NOAA WP-3D aircraft with the new engine upgrades is
supporting an atmospheric science mission called PECAN [Plains Elevated
Convection at Night]. The goal it to study thunderstorms and how the
atmosphere supports their lifecycle, and how they impact lives,
property, agriculture and the water budget in the region. These
upgraded engines have only been on the plane for a few weeks and we're
already reaping the rewards from these upgrades," said Lt. Dave Cowan,
NOAA public outreach officer.