Take a Good Look at This Picture. The Air Force Wants This Plane to Fly For 80 Years.

    Kris Osborn


    Is that even possible? 

    The original 1999 US Patent Application for Electronic Propeller Control Systems, submitted through United Technologies by a small group of inventors, explains that the new electrical system improves the mechanisms controlling the “pitch angle” of a propeller blade. This improves maneuverability, creates faster acceleration from the throttle and optimizes the connectivity between the propeller controls and the movements of the propeller blades. A stable pitch angle, described as the angle between the horizontal and vertical axes of the aircraft, is essential to aircraft performance and flight stability.

    The Air Force plans to fly its war-tested 1950s-era C-130 aircraft well into the 2030s and beyond through a sweeping, multi-pronged technical overhaul, designed to enable the propeller-flown aircraft to perform its high-risk troop transport and combat support missions for decades to come.

    While there have been many innovations, upgrades and technological enhancements to the aircraft since it originally surfaced in the mid-1950s, the historic cargo plane may wind up flying for more than 80 years, according to current Air Force plans.

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    The service is giving the platform new propeller technology, radios, glass cockpit touchscreen displays, digital avionics, collision avoidance technology and reinforced “wing-boxes,” service officials said.

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