Cockpit Upgrade and Cabin Safety Improvements

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11th March 2014


Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group embodies cockpit upgrade and cabin safety improvements to the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s fleet of C-130H aircraft.

The Platform

The C-130 Hercules, originally designed as a troop and cargo transportation aircraft in the 1950s, has since been adapted for a wide variety of roles, including weather reconnaissance, aerial refuelling and fire fighting. In continuous production longer than any other military aircraft, it remains a popular platform with air forces all over the world. However, many C-130s in operation today are several decades old, having amassed thousands of flying hours, and keeping them airworthy poses an increasing challenge to operators.

In order to ensure the continued airworthiness and maximise the tactical capability of long-serving platforms such as the C-130 Hercules, it is necessary to carry out upgrades in addition to routine maintenance. Upgrades are also required to ensure that aircraft comply with emerging aerospace regulations.

This was precisely the situation facing the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) fleet of four C-130H aircraft, the oldest of which was registered in 1978. Incorporating a mixture of commercial-offthe- shelf equipment as well as systems designed specifically for the aircraft, Marshall ADG transformed the four existing C-130Hs into enhanced-capability aircraft with the latest and safest technology.

The Upgrade

The modifications to the RNLAF C-130s consisted of a Cockpit Upgrade Programme (CUP) and Cabin Safety Improvement Programme (CSIMP).

Prior to the upgrade, the C-130H cockpit consisted almost entirely of analogue instruments. As part of CUP, the analogue dials were replaced with digital displays to create a “glass cockpit” environment. The new digital displays ease pilot workload while increasing situational awareness, meaning the aircraft are safer to fly, and also make the aircraft compliant with the latest civil airspace regulations.

The installation of a Communications, Navigation and Surveillance system for Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) was also required to enable the RNLAF’s aircraft to fly through civil airspace. The system is based on CMC Electronics’ Flight Management System (FMS) integrated with an Inertia Reference System (IRS), VHF Omni-range Radio (VOR), Distance Measuring Equipment (DME), Automatic Direction Finder (ADF) and Global Positioning System (GPS). A Traffic Collision Alerting System (TCAS) and an Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) were also installed as part of the upgrade, and the fleet’s cockpits were made night vision capable.

The cabin safety improvements included the installation of improved passenger seating and restraints, systems for smoke detection and emergency lighting, first aid kits and emergency exit markings, as well as structural modifications to the paratroop door.

Drawing on over 45 years of experience gained from delivering more than 1,500 modifications on a number of C-130 modernisation programmes, Marshall ADG’s CUP and CSIMP upgrade solution posed minimal risk. The key systems integrated were sourced from over 30 different vendors, ensuring the programme was not dependent on a sole supplier. In addition, the platform enhancements were designed, installed and tested in house, and the certification substantiation data was also provided by Marshall ADG.

Once all tests had been performed and the modifications completed on two of the four aircraft, the RNLAF conducted its own intensive Operational Test and Evaluation (OTE) phase to ensure that the modifications met their performance requirements. This phase was successful and the modifications were approved and awarded the Military Type Certificate by the Netherlands Military Aviation Authority.

The Result


All four aircraft have been returned to the RNLAF following the CUP/CSIMP modifications. Thanks to Marshall ADG’s upgrade programme, they are now among the safest and most capable C-130Hs in the world, and the fleet’s capability is assured until at least 2020.