This article also appears in
Subscribe now »

Lockheed Martin's LM-100J will incorporate technological developments and improvements over the existing L-100s that resulted from years of C-130J operational experience, including more than 1.3 million flight hours by operators in 16 nations. (All images Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin LM-100J starts taking (a similar) shape

Wing production for the first Lockheed Martin LM-100J commercial multi-purpose freighter has begun in Marietta, GA, which is also home to the C-130J Super Hercules final assembly line. Other structural parts are in production at the Aeronautics sites in Meridian, MS, and Clarksburg, WV, facilities. The LM-100J is expected to make its first flight in 2017, then enter into an FAA certification phase.

The LM-100J will be the civil-certified version of the C-130J and an updated version of the L-100 (or L-382) cargo aircraft, and will be “the only commercial airlifter that offers all-terrain and all-weather service,” according to George Shultz, Vice President and General Manager, Air Mobility & Maritime Missions at Lockheed Martin. Those qualifications will allow the LM-100J to deliver cargo in both developed and rugged environments, as well as support multiple missions, from firefighting to medevac to VIP transport. Lockheed says 115 L-100s were produced from 1964-1992, with about 55 still in service.

There’s no denying that the LM-100J shares a bloodline with the C-130J, one of the main exterior differences being the lack of lower windows under the windscreen on the LM-100J. Those windows allow C-130J pilots to look ahead and down to see drop zones. The civil version will have the same Dowty R391 propellers with six scimitar-shaped composite blades and a black de-icer boot at the base of the vertical fin.

A second, though optional, visible external difference between the LM-100J and the C-130J “seems to be counterintuitive” says Lockheed: the installation of 18 small, lightweight, strake-like devices called “microvanes” on each side of the aircraft’s aft fuselage near the cargo ramp door and horizontal tail.

These roughly 10-in long vanes create minimal localized drag. However, working as a group, the microvanes slow the natural, much larger drag-creating vortex that forms as airflow goes over and under the wing and swirls around the aft end of the aircraft. The net result is described by the company as “a 15-count reduction in drag at long range cruise speeds, which equates to about a 25 gal/h saving.”

Internally, the LM-100J, like the C-130J, features an Enhanced Service Life, or ESL, center wing box, enhanced icing protection, and other reliability and maintainability improvements that are a part of the basic C-130J design.

Four Rolls-Royce AE2100D3 engines will be on the LM-100J, just as the C-130J. The FADEC engines are rated at approximately 4637 shaft hp each, or roughly 150 hp more than the legacy Allison T56 engines. The engines are expected to exceed FAA Stage IV standards, so there will be significantly less fly-over noise with an LM-100J than with an L-100.

The LM-100J and C-130J will share the same automatic engine thrust control system, which adjusts for asymmetric thrust conditions—if one engine loses power, the other engines automatically compensate to keep the aircraft flying safely.

On deck in the two-pilot cockpit will be Northrop Grumman’s low-power color weather and ground-mapping radar data that can be displayed on any of four head-down color displays. All primary flight information, including altitude, heading, and airspeed is presented on two see-through head-up displays in the crew’s field of view. The LM-100J, through the digital autopilot/flight director can take the aircraft down to Category II minimums, generally considered 100 ft decision height for landing with 1200-ft visibility. The flight deck will have a standard microwave oven, like on the C-130J. However, the inclusion of a coffee maker is just optional.

To be of use as a commercial air freighter, some lightweighting of the aircraft is necessary, so nearly all of the military-specific hardware found on a C-130J will be removed or disabled on the LM-100J. Some military-specific software functions, such as a computer-aided release point (CARP) for airdrops, will be retained.

Crews flying the LM-100J will generally fly single-ship operations, so the low-voltage formation lights on the C-130J will not installed, as is the Station Keeping Equipment, or SKE, which is necessary for formation airdrops with the C-130J.

Rather than sound-deadening and temperature-controlling insulation blankets used on C-130s, the LM-100J will have a hard liner that is essentially like a bedliner in a pickup truck—able to withstand repeated bumps and scrapes without requiring regular repair or maintenance.

The LM-100J avionics system includes a commercial Traffic Collision Alert System; the latest-generation CNS/ATM equipment and software; commercial takeoff and landing data; and GPS position data reported to the aircraft’s emergency locator transmitter.

Structurally, the LM-100J will have reinforced bird strike plates around the windscreen and a commercial standard, bird-resistant windscreen. Externally, the LM-100J will have an INMARSAT radio and commercial GPS antenna on the top of the fuselage.

Because much of the flight test done to civil certify the C-130J in the late 1990s will be directly applicable to the LM-100J, testing and certification of the newest Hercules variant is expected to take about twelve months.

Continue reading »