NORFOLK (NNS) -- Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20, based in Patuxent River, Md., embarked on board USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) with a 36-member test team, including maintainers from Northrop Grumman and Rolls-Royce.
The evaluators will test the Navy Propeller 2000 (NP-2000) modification on the C-2A Greyhound during flight ops during the ships current underway which began Aug. 14.
Test pilots, Lt. Cmdr. Geoff McAlwee and Lt. Chris Dotson performed between 80 to 100 approaches to the carrier to allow the test team to analyze performance and handling qualities for the newly configured aircraft. Eventually the new configuration will be added to all fleet C-2As.
"We're trying to align the E-2Cs and C-2As logistically," said McAlwee, who is also the project officer. "This should lower maintenance and equipment cost. Right now, refurbished propellers can go as high as 200,000 to 300,000 dollars."
The C-2A is a twin-turboprop aircraft with a primary mission of transporting high priority passengers and cargo to and from aircraft carriers. The E-2C is a carrier-based, propeller-driven, airborne-early-warning aircraft.
McAlwee said instead of buying 100 parts for one aircraft and 100 parts for another, the Navy can now purchase one single set of parts for both the C-2A and the E-2C aircraft, thereby reducing costs.
Retired naval air crewman and test engineer Al Griffin said the changes began back in 1998. He said that the Department of Defense began officially looking into using 8-bladed propellers on carrier aircraft.
"We used them first on the E-2Cs," said Griffin. "What happened over the years is the E-2Cs were modernized, but the C-2As have been neglected."
Griffin said the biggest reason for the integration was a short supply of parts.
Both Griffin and McAlwee said the new propeller reduces vibration during flight. This makes the flight quieter and protects the aircraft's airframe and components.
"We're not vibrating the components all the time and [because of this] they will last longer," McAlwee said.
McAlwee said the new propellers may also prove to save on gas.
Truman's current underway provided an excellent chance for VX-20 to conduct testing.
"[After this] we'll take the aircraft back for more tests and then begin instituting it into the fleet in late 2008," said McAlwee.
He said the first squadron to receive them will be Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30 on the West Coast.
According to Griffin, the new prop makes the job of maintaining the plane a little bit easier too.
He said if a blade breaks on a four-propeller engine, the whole propeller has to be removed to be fixed, where as with this new innovation, should the same scenario occur, it would only require taking one blade off and replacing it with another.
Both test pilots agree the plane is very much the same, just improved.
"It wasn't much of a difference [flying wise], except for less vibration and a little bit smoother of a flight," McAlwee said.
Griffin noted flight data from the NP-2000 C-2As will be compared to legacy C-2As to compare changes in the aircraft.
Griffin and McAlwee said the Air Force and Navy are currently looking into adding these changes onto the C-130 Hercules plane as well. C-130 serves multiple roles in the Navy ranging from large-scale cargo transport to electronic surveillance.
Truman is currently in the Atlantic Ocean completing Operation Reactor Safeguard Exam qualifications.
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.