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Getting to Know the 54H60 Prop System: Part II

54h60 prop system

The 54H60 prop system is comparable to the muscles in the human body. It enables flight for the masters of the skies, the C-130 and L-100 aircraft. The model designation and a brief explanation of how the 54H60 functions show how intricate and complex the 54H60 system truly is.

Deciphering Propeller Model Designation.

The characters identifying the 54H60 prop system identify specific designs and arrangements of the propeller’s assembly as part of the propeller model designation. Also, each 54H60 prop system model designation is followed by a dash and a number. This ending value refers to the number of minor modifications that have been made to the specific propeller.

The characters of the propeller model designation also define the nature of the propeller system, asserts Lockheed Martin, which breaks down as follows:

  • The first character refers to the number of major modifications made to the propeller system.
  • The second character identifies the number of blades used in the propeller system
  • The third character identifies the shank size of each blade. If this character is a letter, the blades are comprised of aluminum. Meanwhile, a number in the third character indicates steel blades are used.
  • The last two characters before a dash, if present, indicate the spline size of the propeller shaft.

So, let’s look at what the 54H60-91 model designation reveals about a particular C-130’s propeller system.

  • The “5” explains the system has had five major modifications made.
  • The “4” means the system uses four blades.
  • The “H” shows us the blades are made of aluminum, reducing the overall weight of the propeller system.
  • The numeral, “60,” indicates a spline size of 60 is used within the propeller system.
  • Finally, “91” minor modifications have been made to the specific model designation.

54h60 prop system on c-130 hercules

Understanding the designation of the 54H50 propeller system is only the tip of the iceberg, and the functions and capabilities of the system are designed to give the aircraft an immeasurable degree of uses, which accounts for popularity in both military and civilian uses.

How the 54H60 Prop System Functions.

The 54H60 propeller assembly is a constant speed, fully feathering, hydro-mechanical propeller. During aircraft operation, the 54H60 prop system has two distinct ranges, beta (ground) and alpha (flight) ranges. These ranges are differentiated by what component is controlling blade angle.

In the beta range, blade angle is controlled by the throttles from 0-34°, but in alpha range, the propeller governor is attempting to maintain a constant speed of 1020 RPM. Conversely, the alpha range is from 34-90°.

The governor’s ability to vary and control blade angle is vital to maintaining the speed and altitude of the C-130 aircraft during flight operations, and the dome of the propeller provides the hydro-mechanical means for adjusting blade angle. The change in blade angle affects the pitch of the propeller.  Pitch refers to the distance traveled through the air with one revolution of the propeller.  Pitch and blade angle are often used interchangeably. However, blade angle is a measurement as the blades are increased or decreased from the plane of rotation, and pitch is a measurement of distance traveled.

When the governor senses an under-speed (less than 1020 RPM), blade angle must be reduced, allowing the propeller speed (RPM) to increase.  The opposite is true when the propeller over-speeds.  As an over-speed occurs, the propeller blade angle is too low and must be increased, slowing the propeller to 1020 RPM.  The governor porting hydraulic fluid pressure to the dome senses the propeller speed, and then blade angle is hydro-mechanically varied through the dome.

The dome uses a double-acting piston where hydraulic pressure supplied from the governor ports pressure to either the forward side or rear side of the dome piston. When the governor ports hydraulic pressure to the forward side of the dome, blade angle is increased through a rotating cam splined into the blade segment gears.  The opposite happens when the governor supplies fluid to the rear side of the dome piston, thus decreasing blade angle.

This variation of blade angle, through the governor and dome, is critical to the safe operation of the 54H60 prop system.  For the propeller to remain at a constant speed of 1020 RPM, both of these units must be rigged and adjusted properly. Without the synchronization of the governor and dome working together to vary blade angle, the pitch would constantly be shifting thus slowing or speeding up the aircraft in a straight and level situation.  The governor and dome working in tandem allow for this constant RPM to be maintained, without pilot inputs.

Getting to Know the 54H60 Propeller System: Part I

54h60 propeller system at C and S

The C-130 Hercules has a rich, diverse history, ranging from its origins in military applications to current humanitarian efforts, but part of the driving force behind the might and superiority of the aircraft lies in its propeller system. Four different propeller systems have had the honor of being used to help the C-130 take flight, including Curtis Electric propellers, three-bladed Aeroproducts propellers, the four-bladed Hamilton Standard 54H60 and the six-bladed Dowty R391 propeller. However, all active C-130J aircraft employ the R391. As a result, a thorough understanding of the 54H60 propeller system is essential to keeping older model C-130s and modern L-100 models in operation today.

54H60 Propeller System on C-130 Hercules of the US Goast Guard
US Coast Guard C-130 taking off marked by the 4-Bladed 54H60 Propeller System

Critical Terms in Learning More About the 54H60 Propeller System

The components of the 54H60 propeller system have similar names to other propeller systems, explains the Navy BMR. Some of these components include the following:

  • Shank – The thickened portion of the blade near the hub.
  • Blade – The length of the propeller from the butt to the tip, and similar terms, blade back or  face, describe the sides of the blade from an orientation of behind the propeller.
  • Tip – The outer-most portion of the blade from the hub.
  • Hub – The section fitted to the propeller shaft and connected to the shank of each propeller.
  • Leading Edge – The edge of the blade that “cuts” into the direction of the propeller’s turning.
  • Trailing Edge – The opposite edge of the leading edge.
  • Propeller Retaining Nut – This nut connects the hub to the propeller shaft.
  • Blade Stations – The blade stations serve as a guide for measuring width and thickness during overhaul.
  • Pitch – Pitch is a distance traveled through the air with one revolution of the propeller.  Blade angle is the angle measured from a flat pitch or zero angle.
  • Blade Chord – Blade chord describes the distance between the leading and trailing edges of the blades, thickness and camber of the blade.
  • Feathering – Feathering refers to the highest blade angle achieved that allows for drag minimization during flight (Emergency or Normal in flight shutdown.
  • Reversing – You will NEVER go into the reverse range in flight.  Reverse aids in stopping power, by allowing the blade angle to rotate to a negative angle, thus producing thrust that goes forward of the aircraft instead of backward.Reversing action functions similar to a brake in the 54H60 propeller system. It allows the C-130 to reduce speed to maximize the time of targeted approaches. For example, dropping water over wildfires may require slower speed during the time of drop.


Specific Parts of the 54H60 Propeller System

The 54H60 propeller system is made of up rotating and non-rotating parts. The rotating portions of the propeller system include the barrel assembly, four blade assemblies, and the following components:

  • A Pitch lock regulator prevents blade angle from decreasing in the event of loss of controlling oil pressure or an overspeed of 103.5%.
  • A low-pitch stop assembly prevents the blades from decreasing below a preset angle when in flight range.
  • The contact de-icing ring assembly provides power from the aircraft to the propeller, ensuring the blades do not accumulate ice on the tips of blades. There is NO deicing capability outside the blade heater.  The heater obviously doesn’t go to the tip.

Knowing more about the composition of the 54H60 propeller system is the first step toward keeping the legendary “Herc” in service. However, the Herc’s 54H60 propeller system is much more involved in operation than simply identifying its basic parts, and we will dive further into that part of our discussion in Part II.

History of the C-130 Aircraft: Part II

history of the c-130

The C-130 Hercules is a marvel of modern military warfare, reconnaissance, and research capacity. It has been an icon of both imagination and military might since the mid-1950s, and it has survived through many different administrations. So, you must ask yourself, “What makes the C-130 a needed resource, and how have its capabilities changed over time?”

What’s the Purpose of the C-130?

The C-130 Hercules was originally designed to provide tactical deliveries of both supplies and troops to hostile areas. However, engagements in differing landscapes and the demands of modern warfare resulted in changes in the tactical usefulness of the C-130. For example, it became what some might describe as a spy base during its days as an electronics reconnaissance aircraft, providing radar imaging and housing antenna equipment in “faux underwing fuel tanks,” reports Meanwhile, its usefulness grew more intriguing as different variations were created to meet the needs on the ground.

While Lockheed Martin built, the original C-130 with dirt runways and dense jungles in mind, modern uses of the C-130 range from military missions to humanitarian efforts The C-130 is capable of a maximum payload of 44,000 pounds, and even those in charge of its ordering at the Pentagon seem to have difficulty letting it go. In 2005, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld attempted to kill the C-130J program, but the Air Force presented such high costs associated with ending the program, to the tune of more than $1.1 billion, Rumsfeld allowed the program to continue.

history of the c-130 aircraft

How Has the C-130 Changed Over Time?

Since 1998, the C-130J has been the most recent configuration of the first aircraft’s design, marking the latest of a whole lineup of different shapes. In some cases, you may not have even realized the plane before your eyes was a C-130 due to post-manufacturing changes made to the aircraft by the purchaser.

Civilian uses of the C-130 were listed under different names, including the L-100. However, remarkably, the C-130 has still changed how the modern world lives and functions. It has not been the star of Hollywood shows, but the aircraft has become a trademark of sorts in airshows and civilian applications too. At other times in the far reaches of the world, the C-130 is the go-to choice for restocking the National Science Foundation’s research station at the South Pole and is frequently used by International Air Response, providing safe, efficient, and effective emergency and non-emergency aerial services.

Only time will tell how the C-130 evolves into the 21st century. Within a few years, it could face pressures from Congress to end production, or continued lobbying may make this aircraft the choice of the military for the next 100 years. However, the global brand of the C-130 means the opportunities and expectations are endless, and no one knows how the aircraft will shape the future of civilization. In the interim, the existing C-130s will need diligent maintenance, cost effective repair, and overhaul to keep their usefulness in both military and civilian situations.

If nothing else, the amazement felt when seeing this behemoth of an airplane take to the skies cannot be overstated. So, the next time you see a huge military-style aircraft soaring overhead, think about what it means to innovation and the history of a world connected by the power of flight and invention.

Need MRO services for the 54H60 C-130 Aircraft Propeller system? Contact us today.

History of the C-130: Part I

history of c-130 hercules

The C-130 Hercules, otherwise known as the “Herc,” is one of the most easily recognized and versatile aircraft around the world. The various models of the C-130 have flown in both combat and civilian missions, and the applications of the plane are practically endless. Additionally, the versatility of the aircraft and the legacy of its creators have made the C-130 into a staple of modern aviation and exploration. Since the aircraft has had so many different named configurations, ranging from the C-130A to the L-100, you need to understand the history behind the C-130’s concept design and why it has been so popular among both military and civilian officials.

Why Did the Air Force Need the C-130 Hercules?

In 1951, the United States Air Force (USAF) was heavily involved in the Korean War. Hostile areas and rough, dirt-only runways were making the USAF’s existing aircraft difficult to utilize fully. Moreover, existing aircraft were incapable of delivering the thousands of paratroopers, ground soldiers and supplies needed to continue the war effort. However, the problems continued as the large-scale needs were expanding in conjunction with the necessity of a low-altitude, high-lift transport. In fact, the aircraft’s namesake comes from the legendary 12 labors endured by the Greek demigod, Hercules.

Designing and Production of the “Herc” Begins and Slows.

Lockheed started working on prototype designs, with Lockheed basing those designs on existing aircraft made by the company. A “high-winged, four-engine design” from Lockheed, explains, was adjusted to meet the control and low-altitude needs of the USAF. On August 24, 1954, the first version of the C-130 Hercules, the “YC-130,” flew in a demonstration for the USAF. Impressed with its capabilities, the USAF ordered this series of aircraft, and by December 1956, the first deliveries of the C-130A began.

history of the c-130 us Air Force
Oscar C. Williams/

As seen in the photo above, the C-130 Hercules, has the 54H60 Propeller System, marked by the 4 blades. A propeller system that C&S Propeller has worked on for decades. Within three years, engineers updated the engines and maximized the efficiency of each of the four-bladed propeller units, which expanded the operational ranges of the C-130. As a result, production of this line, the C-130B began in 1959, and soon, the C-130B-II took on the duties of a reconnaissance mission, providing radar imaging and housing antenna equipment in “faux underwing fuel tanks,”. However, winter needs became apparent, and the C-130 was adapted again with landing skis for Arctic service to become the C-130D.

Lobbying Keeps the C-130 Hercules Relevant.

The Pentagon stopped ordering all C-130s 25 years after its production began due to a surplus of aircraft during the Carter administration. Meanwhile, the Air Force had begun a search for a more efficient, medium-sized aircraft for similar jobs. Rather than going silently into the recesses of history, Lockheed used a congressional add-on tactic to sell another fleet of 256 C-130s to the Air Force. While the Air Force may not have needed so many new aircraft, one congressional study did find that the Air Force would have ordered at least five C-130s regardless. Of course, part of this add-on was reinforced through extensive lobbying and company-spurred research studies that highlighted how useful the C-130 could be in virtually any situation.


First Flight of the C-130

The first C-130 was delivered in 1956 to Ardmore AFB, OK. The City of Ardmore wanted to refurbish the plane and return it to its original unit, the 463rd Troop Carrier Wing. At the time, they were at Dyess AFB, TX and this is where the plane rests for all to see.

Although some may make a case against the C-130 and Lockheed, the modern world would be missing a piece of its heart without this aircraft. It has a history as rich as that of the U.S. and the only way to ensure the legacy of the C-130 understands its origins and how to apply to destinations yet to be explored. So, naturally, you might start wondering how it is being used today, which we will discuss in Part II.

Morgon Duke Joins C&S Propeller as Sales Manager

Morgon DukeC&S Propeller has hired Morgon Duke as Sales Manager. Based in Fort Worth, Texas, C&S Propeller is a global leader for maintenance, repair and overhaul of the Hamilton Sundstrand 54H60 large aircraft propeller system.

Prior to joining C&S, Morgon Duke’s professional career was as an executive sales manager focused on domestic and international business development and expansion. Notable is his success in developing new business units, start-ups and resurrecting underperforming business units through strategic sales initiatives.

“Morgon provides an expertise that will help our team manage our rapidly growing business expansion,” says VP and General Manager Buddy Tobin. “Along with his strategic skill set, Morgon brings attention to detail in his business efforts along with an uncompromising focus on customer satisfaction.”

Mr. Duke is a Fort Worth, Texas area native.

“Morgon has a professional reputation of exceeding customer expectations. We’re looking forward to the results of his sales leadership,” adds Jeff Heikke, president of Precision Aerospace Products LLC, the parent company of C&S.

Mr. Duke attended the University of Texas at Arlington with a concentration on Business Management.

C&S Propeller Relocation to Fort Worth, Texas

Buddy Tobin (left) and Jeff Heikke (right) meet with Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price after signing the agreement on their new facility.
Buddy Tobin (left) and Jeff Heikke (right) meet with Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price after signing the agreement on their new facility.

C&S Propeller is relocating its propeller maintenance, repair and overhaul business to Fort Worth, Texas this month. C&S plans to have its new headquarters and facility operational June 1, 2016.

In business for almost 50 years in southern California, C&S is taking advantage of the ‘business friendly’ environment of Texas and the historically entrenched aviation and aerospace industry within the Dallas-Fort Worth market.

Founded in 1968, C&S Propeller is one of the world’s foremost experts in the maintenance, repair and overhaul of the propeller systems used on the Lockheed C130 Hercules aircraft. Serving both military and civilian C130 operators around the globe, C&S is recognized as a category leader on the 54H60 propeller system utilizing the highest skilled and experienced technicians in the industry.

With over 1,400 aircraft in military and civilian operation, the Lockheed C130 is one of aviation’s largest and most widely used transport aircraft fleet.

Jeff Heikke, President of Precision Aerospace Products LLC, the parent company of C&S, made the decision to relocate to the Fort Worth market due to the fast growing business expansion C&S is experiencing. Mr. Heikke wanted to grow the C&S operation in a market familiar with aerospace. Jeff Heikke states, “C&S has had a long history in California. We look forward to the aerospace resources the Fort Worth market offers along with a lower cost of living for our employees and greater flexibility in our day to day operations.”

Buddy Tobin is the VP/General Manager of C&S Propeller and a native Texan. Mr. Tobin’s management is leading C&S’s success and growth. Tobin acknowledges, “C&S is a world leader in the maintenance and repair of this very important and complex propulsion system on the C130 ‘Herc’ fleet. And our success is due to employing the best and brightest airframe and power plant technicians. We are looking forward to settling in quickly and getting down to business in our new home.”

The C&S move to Fort Worth culminated in a partnership approach by C&S and the local Chamber of Commerce along with their economic development council.

David Berzina is executive vice president of economic development for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. He is thrilled to see C&S becoming Fort Worth’s latest member of this iconic industry. “Fort Worth’s aviation history dates back to 1911, and we are now home to hundreds of major aviation companies and related vendors who supply everything necessary to get the aircraft off the ground,” he said. “C&S Propeller will greatly benefit from close proximity to these companies, as well as from having access to a highly skilled workforce that is partially composed of former military personnel with expertise in engineering and avionics. The company’s presence in this strong aviation community will also support its future growth initiatives.”

Betsy Price, Fort Worth’s Mayor, is also very pleased to see her city’s portfolio of aerospace based companies growing with the inclusion of C&S. “C&S Propeller is a welcome addition to Fort Worth’s prestigious roster of aviation and aerospace companies,” said Mayor Price. “Our pro-business environment, strong economy, low cost of living, and highly skilled workforce continues to attract companies from California who want to maximize operational efficiencies and reduce costs, without compromising on the high quality of life desired by their employees.”

As of this release, C&S has signed a long term lease agreement on its new facility in the Southern area of Fort Worth. The new facility will occupy 18,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space.

New Production Supervisor Joins C&S Propeller

C&S Propeller is pleased to announce the appointment of Robert Kirk to the position of Production Supervisor.  With over 14 years on-the-wing and intermediate level maintenance experience on 54H60 propellers, Mr. Kirk will play a key role in C&S Propeller’s success as the company moves to it’s new Texas facility.

Mr. Kirk served on active duty as a jet engine mechanic in the U.S. Navy for 11 years before transitioning to the reserves where he worked primarily on the P-3 Orion aircraft as a Quality Assurance Inspector.  During active duty he served as the Production Supervisor of the valve housing and pump housing work center before taking over as the T-56 engine module overhaul Production Supervisor.

While completing his Bachelor’s degree in Engineering, Mr. Kirk will utilize his Lean 6 Sigma Green Belt certification to aide in improving C&S Propeller’s quality and production efficiencies.

Buddy Tobin Named C&S General Manager

Buddy Tobin has been named General Manager of C&S Propeller.Buddy Tobin C&S GM

Mr. Tobin brings extensive aerospace experience with nine years in senior management, overseeing Airframe Modification Programs for multiple repair stations. Beginning as an Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic with advancing levels of responsibility in the aerospace field, he has lead efforts in certifying and running FAA Part 145 Repair Stations and PMA facilities. His technical experience & proven management record provides C&S with dynamic leadership in propelling the company forward to stronger performance on the path of growth.

Buddy Tobin earned a Bachelors Degree in Aviation Maintenance Management, is a certified Project Management Professional, holds an FAA Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic Certificate with Inspection Authorization, and is a Commercial Multi Engine Instrument Rated Pilot.