“This is a fun and very pilot-friendly airplane,” Dignan later told two air show visitors as they sat in the cockpit.
But it’s not just fun for pilots, according to Master Sgt. Ronnie Klipp, a crew chief with the 403rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron from Keesler.
“It’s a dream. It’s a very user-friendly airplane,” he said while explaining the maintenance features. “It’s like getting off a moped and getting on a Harley.”
When something goes wrong on the aircraft, the computer alerts the crew what it is. If a repair is needed, many problems can be resolved through a “plug and play” system where the problem part is easily removed and sent to the factory for a replacement, usually requiring a wait of only one to two days if the part is not immediately available.
Such efficiency, said Klipp, has reduced his workload by two-thirds. For example, plug and play reduces the time it takes to replace a throttle quadrant from about two days to 30 minutes.
The upgrade also has made the job easier for Chief Master Sgt. Michael Scaffidi, a loadmaster assigned to the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron.
“There is no comparison,” he said when asked to compare the C-130J with previous Hercules aircraft he’s flown on.
For loading cargo, gone are the heavy tracks of metals wheels that had to be maneuvered into place to roll pallets of cargo onto the aircraft.
Instead, the chief now can simply reach down, pick up a strip of smooth floor and flip it over to expose the wheels from the opposite side.
Once the flip-up rails have been used to maneuver pallets into place, electronic side locks keep them securely in place, replacing the old locking system of cables and a hand crank.
Regarding humam cargo, Scaffidi said they will be sure to enjoy an improved air conditioning system that can accurately modify temperatures by as little as a few degrees, replacing a system that’s often a “hit and miss” attempt to regulate cabin temperature.
The C-130J is on display here until May 21 at the Berlin Schoenefeld Airport.