Tamarack Aerospace Group pitches Active Winglets for C-130

Author: Gareth Jennings, London, Aviation Desk Editor at IHS Jane’s

 

Tamarack Aerospace Group is offering to work with Lockheed Martin to equip the US Air Force’s

(USAF’s) fleet of C-130 Hercules transport aircraft with its ATLAS active winglets which, the

company claims, reduce fuel consumption at the same time as extending the service life of the

wing.

The Idaho-based based company is looking to present its technology to Lockheed Martin in the

hope of launching a collaborative effort to help solve the fuel reduction mandates required by the

USAF, IHS Jane’s was told.

 

“We have confidence in our models that we can give the C-130 a 10% improvement in fuel

savings. Other benefits include an extension of the wing life, better hot and high performance, a

potential to increase gross weight and maximum zero fuel weights, slower stall speeds, and

shorter landing and take-off requirements,” company spokesperson Bill Mitchell said on 26

September.

 

Tamarack Aerospace Group’s interest in a potential collaboration with Lockheed Martin stems

from the news earlier in the year that the USAF had commenced winglet trials with its MC-130J

Commando II special mission aircraft. Engineers from the 413th Flight Test Squadron modified an

MC-130J with winglets in April as part of a trial to ascertain possible fuel efficiencies Martin in

accordance with contracted research and design (CRAD) funding granted by the Air Force

Research Laboratory (AFRL) in September 2014. Eight test sorties of the winglet-equipped MC-

130J were flown out of at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, though the findings have not been

disclosed.

 

According to Mitchell, the winglets developed by Tamarack Aerospace Group differ from those

developed elsewhere to reduce wing loading also, and thereby increase the wing’s service life.

“We have patented a load alleviation device that ‘aerodynamically turns off the winglets’ during

those rare moments when ‘g’ forces are high. The system is constantly monitoring and predicting

gusts and/or manoeuvres, and ‘positions’ the Tamarack Active Camber Surface (TACS) as

necessary to eliminate the additional loads that a static winglet would normally affect. With our

system, more than 99% of the time you can fly with a bigger, better, more efficient winglet - and

the less than 1% of the time that you don’t care about efficiency, the winglet is aerodynamically

‘turned off’ and you don’t have the downside effects (ie, excessive wing load). We have proven

that our load alleviation system is so effective that the wings with active winglets have lower stress

per ‘g’ throughout the entire wing than the original equipment manufacturer [OEM] wings without

winglets,” he explained.

 

Mitchell added that the company has experienced three-to-four times the fuel savings than current

passive winglets, saying: “Our initial certification on the Cessna Citation Jet (CJ) has enjoyed more

than 25% reduction in fuel burn and increase in range, [while] the current version of the CE-525

 

(M2) [executive jet] will experience up to 12% reduction in fuel flow.”

As well as offering advantages in performance, the ATLAS active winglets are quicker and easier

to install than others, with Mitchell noting: “One of the significant benefits of our winglets is the

elimination of wing reinforcements throughout the OEM wing. This allows for faster, easier and

less expensive installation. Because of our highly effective load alleviation system we don’t have to

reinforce the wings with additional structure.”

 

To date, the performance figures of the ATLAS active winglets have been calculated using

computer modelling, which have yet to be confirmed with flight trials. Mitchell told IHS Jane’s that

the company’s experience with other aircraft types indicates that design and trials could take

approximately one-to-two years, though this timeline would be very dependent upon the level of

Lockheed Martin’s involvement. “We are hopeful that Lockheed Martin will follow up with us to

learn what we have to offer,” he said.

 

COMMENT

Despite their increasing ubiquity on other transport aircraft types, from the tactical Airbus Defence

and Space C212 and C295W up to the strategic Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, winglets have been

strangely absent from the C-130. This omission is surprising given the numbers of C-130s in

service throughout the world.In 2013 Lockheed Martin said that its studies had shown that the

technology did not fit the geometry of the C-130’s straight wing, with an official saying: “We have

a design, but we have not convinced ourselves through wind tunnel testing that it provides enough

economies to warrant the expense of modifying the aircraft”. Lockheed Martin had earlier

anticipated winglets would cut fuel consumption by between 5% and 7%.Despite this setback,

Lockheed Martin did say that it would revisit the concept should the technology advance to

become viable for the C-130. With the concept now once again ‘on the front burner’, the

opportunities for the company and any partner could be significant. There have been more than

2,500 C130s built in various iterations since 1954. While not all of these are still flying, there are a

great number that could benefit from a system that not only gives a reduction in fuel consumption,

but, in the case of the ATLAS active winglets offered by Tamarack Aerospace Group, could lengthen

the life of the wing also.