Lord Corporation Awarded USAF Contract for C-130 In-Flight Propeller Balancing System

According to the company, controlling vibration with on-line, fully automated balancing technology will lead to reduced maintenance workload and will increase durability and lower the cost of operations.

CARY, N.C., Oct. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- LORD Corporation - a leader in the management of vibration, noise and motion control - has been awarded a System Design and Development (SDD) contract by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) to integrate their proprietary Electro-Magnetic In-Flight Propeller Balancing System (EM-IPBS) into the USAF's C-130E & H fleet equipped with 54H60 propellers.

The $4.5MM contract from the 330th Aircraft Combat Sustainment Group (ACSG) of the Warner Robins Air Logistic Center (WR-ALC), Robins Air Force Base, Ga., spans until Dec. 2010 and includes extensive flight and user acceptance testing for their 500-plus C-130 fleet. The contract consists of a funded $2.7MM base effort and three unfunded options totaling $1.8MM.

Controlling propeller vibration is a new application for the existing technology of electro-magnetic active balancing. This benefits the USAF by reducing maintenance workload, improving aircraft readiness and improving the reliability of engine-mounted components on C-130 aircraft. Operating automatically during flight, EM-IPBS provides optimal propeller balancing by compensating for variations in balance, providing the balance correction needed throughout the entire operating range. The EM-IPBS also includes a small electronic controller that not only achieves on-line balancing, but also can serve as a predictive maintenance tool.

According to Steve Meyer, Global Marketing & Sales Manager, Aerospace & Defense, for LORD Corporation, controlling vibration with on-line, fully automated balancing technology will lead to reduced maintenance workload and will increase durability and lower the cost of operations.

"We are very excited about this contact and are grateful for the support the Air Force provided, including support from the many organizations involved such as Air Mobility Command and the National Guard Bureau," said Meyer. "The EM-IPBS technology looks promising as a means to reduce the maintenance load of the warfighter and lower the total life-cycle cost of the propulsion system."

Proven Technology

Although LORD teamed with Hamilton Sundstrand to adapt the robust in-flight system for turboprop aircraft, the IPBS leverages technology that has been well-proven by LORD in commercial applications. Electro-mechanical (EM) balancer technology has been in service in extremely harsh conditions in industrial applications for almost a decade and has logged millions of service hours in applications ranging from turbo-compressors to large extraction fans and high-speed machining spindles. EM-IPBS is comprised of one balancing device per propeller and a single controller per aircraft. The computer-controlled system uses accelerometer inputs from the rotating propeller to automatically adjust the position of correctional balance weights as needed to minimize total system unbalance for each operating condition.

According to Ray Misjan, Global Market Manager, Balancing, LORD Corporation, "Propellers are somewhat unique in that different amounts of imbalance result from their variable blade pitch, which can cause changes in both mass imbalance and aerodynamic imbalance. A variation in the required balance correction amplitude and angular position was indeed observed during the test. The IPBS technology is capable of actively responding to these variations and implementing balance correction, keeping the propeller vibration at minimal levels. IPBS is virtually the only way to properly balance propellers throughout their operating range."

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