Aircraft Technicians Embrace CC-130J Hercules Technology

From Canada's Air Force, a look at the technicians who will be working on Canada's new CC-130J Hercules, and the technological difference from our current fleet of Hercules.


Written by Holly Bridges - Canada's Air Force

Thursday, 27 May 2010

When it comes to being chosen to work on the new CC-130J model Hercules, Master Corporal Charles Gauthier says he was in the right place at the right time. He literally walked past the occupational advisor for Canadian Forces aviation technicians one day at work and was asked if he would like to cross over to the CC-130J. After 10 years of working on the E and H model CC-130 Hercules at 8 Air Maintenance Squadron (8 AMS) at 8 Wing Trenton, Ont., he jumped at the chance. A new opportunity and a new challenge, he thought.

“It’s been great,” says MCpl Gauthier. “I really enjoyed the training we received from the United States Air Force down in Little Rock, Arkansas. After my initial 12-week course, I was selected to be the first airframe technician to learn how to do engine run-ups and that was great. After taking a bit of a break in between my initial course and the run-up training, I finished a year to the day after I was chosen to work on the J.”

As someone who admits he “likes to get his hands dirty”, MCpl Gauthier says the actual CC-130J Hercules airframe is pretty much the same as the E and H model Hercules and still requires hands-on maintenance which he loves; however, because the aircraft is so sophisticated technologically, he says computers now play a much bigger role in driving the maintenance of the aircraft.

“It was a big change because [as aviation technicians] we haven’t usually interfaced with computers or had to know how the gauges work, but especially now that I’ve done engine run-ups, I have to know a lot more about the inner workings of the aircraft, so technologically, yes, it’s a lot more advanced.” (Technicians frequently perform engine run-ups after the aircraft has been worked on, to ensure that all systems are a go).

Sergeant Dave Small, an avionics technician at 436 (Transport) Squadron, at 8 Wing Trenton, Ont. where MCpl Gauthier is now posted, says even though he is used to dealing with pretty sophisticated avionics (the “glass cockpit” or computerized operating systems) on the E and H model Hercules, the J-model is in a league of its own.

“Nothing is the same in the J-model. Whatever you think about the legacy model Hercules, don’t even think about the J because it’s totally different,” says Sgt Small, who has worked on five different airframes throughout his 21-year career, deployed to Afghanistan three times, Bosnia-Herzegovina once and Canadian Forces Station Alert five times for Operation Boxtop.

“Everything was totally new for us because none of us had ever seen this side of a Herc. It was all new. Nothing was boring on our course; it was all a challenge. None of us had ever worked on something so electronic, so instead of turning dials and flipping switches we were pushing buttons to access computers because that’s what the whole aircraft is based around. As someone who hadn’t been to school in 15 years, I spent a lot of time after class working on homework whereas the younger pups picked it up a lot more quickly because they’re of that generation. All in all it’s been really great. I learned a lot.”

Sgt Small says there has never been a better time to join the Air Force for anyone who is looking for a challenging and rewarding career, especially one that uses the latest technology such as on the CC-130J Hercules.

“If you want to go to work, do good work, enjoy your job and still have clean hands you want to be an avionics technician. If you want to go to work, come home with dirty hands and grease underneath your fingernails, then you want to be an aviation technician.”

MCpl Gauthier agrees.

“I used to be in the Army and I loved my job. Then I re-mustered to aviation technician and I still love my job so I would recommend the military definitely. It’s not a job; it’s a lifestyle and a culture. I don’t mind getting dirty and working hard. Make sure you’re technically inclined because all the new aircraft coming out now are all computerized, so you have no choice. I know it’s going to be hard for a lot of the more experienced guys who have trouble getting into their e-mail sometimes.”

Canada is slated to accept its first CC-130J Hercules later this spring. Crews from 8 Wing Trenton, Ont. are scheduled to fly it from the Lockheed Martin manufacturing plant in Marietta, Georgia to its new home at 436 Sqn.

The Canadian fleet of CC-130J Hercules will be known as the CC-130J in accordance with Canadian military aircraft naming conventions.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- About the CC-130 Hercules

History

The CC-130 Hercules is the workhorse of the Canadian Forces transport fleet. Different variants of this rugged and versatile aircraft have served the Canadian Forces well since the early 1960s. The current fleet of CC-130s continues to be the Canadian Forces’ primary aircraft for tactical airlift, tactical air-to-air refuelling and fixed-wing search and rescue. The Canadian Forces currently own 32 Hercules aircraft: 19 E-models dating from 1964 to 1968 and 13 H-models dating from 1973 to 1992.

Renewing the tactical airlift fleet is part of the Canada First Defence Strategy's commitment to a modernized and strengthened Canadian Forces, enabling troops to conduct safer and more effective operations at home and abroad.

Contract Amount

The purchase contract for 17 CC-130J Hercules aircraft is valued at approximately $1.4 billion U.S., with an additional amount for at least 20 years of in-service support.

CC-130J Hercules (“Super Hercules”)

The CC-130J Hercules is a four-engine turboprop tactical transport aircraft with a rear cargo ramp, rugged landing gear, good short-field performance and high ground clearance for engines and propellers, used for troop transport, tactical airlift (both palletized and vehicular cargo), and aircrew training and qualification. It is designed to operate from unimproved airstrips in an active theatre of operations. The CC-130J has the same look of its predecessors but in fact is a greatly improved airplane. The new Hercs fly faster, higher, and farther, carrying heavier loads while burning less fuel. They deliver cutting edge technology to provide the Canadian Forces with a cost-effective, operationally-proven tactical airlift capability

Tagged: cc-130j hercules, canadian air force

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