DAYTON, Ohio — A decommissioned C-130 Hercules Air Force cargo plane has been delivered to the University of Dayton for research on cost-effective ways to keep older C-130s flying.

The Dayton Daily News reports the plane recently arrived in sections on flatbed trucks from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

University of Dayton Research Institute researchers are teaming with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Product Support Engineering Division and the AFLCMC C-130 Program Office to test and demonstrate new technologies on the plane, once it’s assembled.

An institute spokeswoman said manufacturers don't make parts for older planes and there often isn't information on parts or structures that need replacing. Researchers can scan an older aircraft and 3-D print a replacement part using computer-assisted design files.

“The Air Force spends a lot of money on aircraft sustainment,” said Debbie Naguy, AFLCMC Product Support Engineering Division chief, in a press release “The C-130 that is being delivered here today will help us demonstrate and qualify new innovative technologies to lower sustainment costs and improve readiness.”

Brian Stitt, division head for Sustainment Technologies Transition at UDRI, said in a press release that technology development and demonstration under the program will include micro-vanes for fuel savings, additive manufacturing, cold spray for repairs, robotics and lasers for paint removal, environmental evaluation of coatings, augmented and virtual reality, condition-based maintenance, and aircraft battle damage repair.

“The challenge is that, in many cases, no technical information exists on these parts because of the age of the aircraft,” Naguy said in the press release. “So when a replacement part or structure is needed and there is no drawing available, we will reverse engineer the part, scanning it to create a three-dimensional digital model that be used to develop and qualify AM replacement parts.”

The faster these technologies are developed and advanced, the bigger the impact will be for use across the Air Force enterprise, Stitt said in the press release.

The university poured a 2,500-square-foot concrete pad to support the aircraft, which weighs approximately 40 tons when empty and has a 133-foot wing span.

The research, which involves students from Dayton, Ohio State and Wright State universities, is expected to last 18 to 24 months.

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