(Last Updated On: July 18, 2018)
Will the Lockheed LM-100J Sell Without EASA Certification?
The Sales Ledger
The Lockheed LM-100J has been struggling to gain decent orders from the international market despite its appearance at the Paris Air Show held in 2017. According to source reports, the manufacturer was able to secure orders from an undisclosed customer for five units. If these orders do mature, the total orders for the civil variant would stand at twenty-five (25). Other than the five mentioned, the previous signed Letter of Intents (LOI) for 10 each aircraft, were from the ASL Aviation Group which has its operations based in Ireland and South Africa; and Bravo, a logistics company based in Brazil.
The maiden flight of the latest civilian variant of the L100 Hercules family took place on 25 May, 2017. Lockheed plans to be done with flight testing and FAA certification formalities by the end of 2018. It is pertinent to note that initial certification for the LM-100J will only be for cargo hauling and not for commercial passenger transport. The predecessor of the LM-100J was the civilian L-100/L-382 airplanes, 115 of which were sold to various civil certified operators around the world.
The latest civilian Super-Hercules features a two-man fully automated glass-cockpit with the additional feature of a Heads-Up Display (HUD) unit. The aircraft can haul 18 tonnes of payload to a maximum range of 4000 kilometers at 355 Knots cruise speed operating on Rolls Royce AE2100 turboprop engines. The aircraft is ideal for humanitarian relief missions, air ambulance roles, aerial fire-fighting roles, Search and Rescue missions and of course passengers (when certifed!)
Tough Road Ahead for LM-100J Sales
The LM-100J sales pitch will be daunting challenge for Lockheed with competition such as the Embraer KC-390 and Airbus A400M (EASA certified) looming ahead. The LM-100J is hardly out of its FAA certification formalities and it would take time even if Lockheed intends to acquire an EASA type-certification. It is pertinent to mention here that L-382G variant was EASA certified and a few of them are still being flown under civilian airworthiness standards (EASA compliant).
EASA vs. FAA Type Certification & Continued Airworthiness Standards
While it is yet unknown whether Lockheed intends to apply for a Type Acceptance Certificate from EASA, it will definitely be useful if it does so, for the following reasons:-
(a) EASA type certificate would help Lockheed effectively pitch LM-100J sales within the EU states and 34 other countries which have adopted EASA standards under bilateral agreements. If LM-100J is certified under EASA Part-21 (Type Acceptance Certificate) and is included in the list of type certified aircraft in EASA part-66, it will automatically pave way for:
- Type Acceptance in 58 countries (including EU).
- Type Training compliant to EASA B1/B2 standards under Part-66 (or equivalent).
- Continued Airworthiness Management under EASA Part-M and Part-145 (or equivalent).
(b) An LM-100J certified to EASA standards would become an effective competitor to the A400M which already holds EASA Type Certificate.
The KC-390 is the latest offering in tactical transport aircraft, which promises much higher operation and economic efficiencies, than any other competition in the existing cargo transport market. The manufacturer claims that the aircraft offers a much lower life cycle cost in comparison to Lockheed's LM-100J and Airbus's A400M. The aircraft can haul cargo weighing 26 tonnes at a cruising speed of 470 knots (870 km/h), operating on V2500 / CFM56 or highly fuel efficient turbofan engines. During the 2018 Singapore Air Show, an Letter of Intent was signed by an aviation corporation called "SkyTech" for six new aircraft. The ordering company "SkyTech" was formed with the partnership being forged between two defense companies, one from Portugal called ACMI, and the other one from Australia known as Adagold Aviation.
The Airbus A400M is another stiff competitor for the LM-100J, as the former holds EASA certification and as far as its capability goes, is larger, faster and can carry more cargo than the LM-100J. In a typical tactical transport role, the A400M can carry 30 tonnes of cargo and cruise at a speed of 422 knots to a range of 4,500 km, on its large turboprop TP400-D6 engines. The current stakeholders have committed to buy 170 aircraft i.e. United Kingdom 22, Belgium 7, Turkey 10, Spain 27 and the largest orders being from Germany 53 and France 50. Additionally 4 planes were ordered by Malaysia, to complement its existing transport fleet of legacy C-130 aircraft.
The A400M is a unique platform in the sense that its load carrying capabilities match the Boeing C-17 aircraft, while still retaining tactical transport characteristics comparable to the C-130J Hercules. With the C-17A aircraft production ceased at the Boeing plant, the A400M presents a formidable replacement for new customers and customers looking to replace their aging C-130 fleet.