THE LEGEND IS BACK IN THE SKY
The roots of the new L-100 also go back to the legendary C-130 military transporter known as “Super Hercules”, which made a name for itself worldwide in particularly demanding transport operations. One of its particular specialties is taking off and landing even in remote locations without developed runways. The civil aviation sector quickly became aware of this ‘workhorse’ aircraft and Lockheed Martin developed a commercial version, which was launched as an L-100 transporter.
The prototype took off for the first time on 20 April 1964 for a flight of almost one and a half hours, and in mid-February 1965, the L-100 received its type certification. At the end of September 1965, American Continental Air Services (CASI), a subsidiary of Continental Airlines, received the first of 21 series production aircraft that were initially unmodified.
Lockheed Martin quickly followed up with larger and more powerful versions – the L-100-20 and L-100-30. Their customers included Delta Airlines, which used the L-100-20 on its cargo route network between 1968 and 1973.
Like its military brethren, this model has carried everything that ever has been or could be transported by air, according to Lockheed-Martin. Their records range from a complete circus to huge replacement engines, to live killer whales, disassembled helicopters and smaller aircraft.
“THE AIRCRAFT OF THE PREVIOUS MODEL HAVE SLOWLY COME TO THE END OF THEIR LIFE SPAN. OUR CUSTOMERS HAVE INFORMED US THAT THE ONLY REPLACEMENT FOR AN L-100 IS AN LM-100J.”
ROD MCLEAN, VICE PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER, AIR MOBILITY & MARITIME MISSIONS AT LOCKHEED MARTIN
And so, Lockheed Martin officially resumed its production program at the beginning of February 2014 – at that time still hoping to sell a total of 75 units of the revamped old model. The “package” also includes FAA-certified pilot training at the “Super Hercules” training center at Lockheed Martin’s Marietta site.
Length: 112 ft 9 in/34.37 m
Height: 38 ft 10 in/11.84 m
Wingspan: 132 ft 7 in/40.41 m
Horizontal tail span: 52 ft 8 in/16.05 m
Power Plant: 4 Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3,
GE-Dowty Aerospace R391, 6-blade propellers, all composite
Maximum take-off weight (2.5 g): 164,000 lb/74.389 kg
Payload (2.5 g)*: 150,000 lb/22.670 kg
Operating weight empty: 81,000 lb/36.740 kg
Zero fuel weight**: 131,000 lb/59.420 kg
Landing distance (135,000 lb): 3,100 ft/945 m
Range (40,000 lb payload): 2,390 nm/4425 km
Maximum cruise speed: 355 KTAS/660 km/h
*Higher payload allowable with wing relieving fuel
** Higher zero fuel weight allowable with wing relieving fuel
The launch operator is Pallas Aviation, a cargo airline from Texas. The company has purchased the first two LM-100J transporters and stationed them at Alliance Airport in Fort Worth, ready for operation worldwide. The focus of Pallas’ activities is the transport of oversized and overweight cargo in areas with limited take-off and landing infrastructure – in keeping with the tradition of the “Super Hercules”.
According to Lockheed-Martin, three more units have already been sold, but the aircraft manufacturer is keeping quiet about the customer. However, the company is already distancing itself from its original goal of selling 75 units and is now only forecasting sales of 25 to 45 LM-100J.
Photos: Lockheed Martin