It’s one of the hardest aircraft in the fleet to fly, sailors say, but the C-2A Greyhound continues to endure thousands of arrested landings and catapult launches to deliver mail and cargo to sailors deployed aboard the Navy’s largest warships.
Despite efforts to update its avionics and propeller systems to extend its service life to 2020, the 23-year-old twin-engine cargo aircraft, also known as the Carrier On-Board Delivery, or COD, is aging and becoming quickly outdated, sailors say.
Navy officials have begun to investigate options for a replacement aircraft and maintainers and operators are eager to have their say.
“If we’re talking about building a new aircraft in 2010, 2012, it ought to have [top quality] avionics and technology incorporated into it,” says Master Chief Scott Fick of the Navy’s Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40 based in Norfolk, Va. “Anything less than that is doing a disservice to our operators and maintainers to be able to perform our mission reliably in the future.”
Maintainers say they would want the hydraulic systems buried in the floorboards of the plane to open up space on the top of the aircraft to hold more cargo. That would also allow passenger seats to be stowed up against the sides of the fuselage and bulkheads. The passenger seats in the C-2A must be installed and removed in a labor-intensive process, which can take aircrews a good hour to an hour and a half to accomplish. “It’s painful and it’s unnecessary,” says Fick. “It could be a much more efficient system.”
Because aircrews manually load and unload each and every piece of cargo and baggage flying to and from the carriers aboard the C-2A, they would like to see a cargo roller system installed in the floor of the replacement. They also want an on-board oxygen generation system that will preclude carrying today’s liquid oxygen bottles for emergencies.
Similar to the sensor systems found in motor vehicles, maintainers are asking for the C-2A replacement to have a built-in test system that will self-diagnose problems in the aircraft’s engines, avionics, propellers and flight control systems.
Aviators want an anti-skid wheel brake system, a more robust and reliable automatic flight control system and a more powerful engine, such as the Rolls Royce T56-A-427A that is used on the forthcoming E-2D Hawkeye.
Pilots say they also want to see fly-by-wire and power lever-by-wire systems in the new plane. Getting rid of the cables and other components that connect the pilot’s stick with the actuator at the end of the C-2A will generate tremendous weight savings, says Fick. A lighter plane means more fuel efficiency, more power and possibly an increase in cargo load.
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