The year was 1952. Rohr Aircraft Corporation was launching design and
production of propulsion system components such as the nacelle, pylon, engine
mount and other systems for Boeing's cutting-edge new bomber: the B-52. The
company knew it had a challenging project on its hands.
For one thing, the configuration of the propulsion system was unique. In an
era when most aircraft were still propeller-driven, the B-52 was jet-powered –
featuring eight 10,000-lb. thrust Pratt & Whitney J57-P-1W turbojet engines.
Adding to the complexity, the configuration featured a unique twin-engine "pod"
layout. This called for innovation. Specifically, it required the design of
propulsion system components that would be easy to service in field conditions,
while meeting the demanding performance requirements of Boeing, which had design
authority and approval over the project.
Ultimately, the components Rohr developed for the B-52 in the early 1950s
proved so capable that they still serve reliably on the iconic bomber to this
day. Rohr – now part of Collins Aerospace – was up to the challenge
then and today, more than six decades later, it remains uniquely capable of
supporting the continuing evolution of the B-52.
Leveraging a legacy of experience
As the B-52 has advanced from the first "A" model up to the current "H"
model, Collins Aerospace has expanded on its innovations, adapting and
modifying its initial component configurations to accommodate increased
electrical power generation and engine thrust. This adaptability is amply
evident in the nacelle and pylon systems for the ducted fan power plant on
today's B-52H model. The B-52H features Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-3 turbofans,
which offer 70% more thrust than the engines on the original B-52A.
Now, as the United States Air Force (USAF) moves forward with plans to
modernize the B-52 with new engines, Collins Aerospace is ready to leverage
its deep experience in military aircraft re-engine programs. Augmented by six
decades supplying advanced nacelle systems for new generations of military and
commercial aircraft, Collins Aerospace is the perfect choice to design and
manufacture the primary propulsion system components for the Boeing B-52
No stranger to military aircraft upgrades
The USAF has proposed this program for the B-52, currently in the feasibility
study stage, to extend the life of the venerable Cold War platform to 2050. Part
of the life-extension strategy – which is focused only on B-52H models – will be
to replace the engines with upgraded units while still retaining the
eight-engine configuration. This will likely require new pylon and nacelle
systems, along with new engine mounts and new Engine Build-Up (EBU) external
Who better than Collins Aerospace to take on this task? Since
participating in the design and manufacture of the original B-52 nacelle and
pylon systems, Collins Aerospace has produced a steady stream of primary
propulsion system components for numerous platforms. In commercial aviation,
these range from the Boeing 707 to the 787, and the Airbus A300 to the A350. In
the military segment, the portfolio includes the Lockheed C-141, C-5 Galaxy,
C-130 Hercules and P3 Orion.
Collins Aerospace is also no stranger to military aircraft upgrades
involving engine replacement. Just as it was ready with an innovative
nacelle/pylon solution when the USAF re-engined the B-52, it also stepped up to
the challenge when the USAF modernized its C-5 Galaxy military airlifter with
new engines in the late 1990s. Starting in 2002, the company drew on its
experience providing the nacelles and pylons for the original C-5 Galaxy to
design and manufacture the new pylons required for the Lockheed C-5M Reliability
Enhancement and Re-Engining Program (RERP). A key element of the C-5 upgrade
program was replacing its General Electric TF-39 engines with more powerful and
reliable GE CF6-80C2s. Collins Aerospace also provided the re-engined C-5
with the existing inlet and fan cowl nacelle components it manufactures for the
C2-powered Boeing 767. With continuous improvement in its DNA, Collins Aerospace brought this mindset to the C-5M RERP, driving reduced cycle times and
costs even as it delivered the final units.
Direct experience with the likely B-52 engine candidates
The three major aircraft engine manufacturers – Pratt & Whitney, Rolls Royce
and GE – have suggested several possible engine candidates for the B-52 life
extension program. These include the Rolls Royce BR725 engine (featured on the
Gulfstream G-650), General Electric's CF-34-10 engine (featured on the Embraer
190/195) and more recent Passport engine, and Pratt & Whitney's PW800 (certified
to power the Gulfstream G500/G600 and selected to power the new Dassault Falcon
6X). Collins Aerospace already has direct experience with three of these
Starting in 1997, Collins Aerospace designed and manufactured the nacelle
and thrust reverser for the Rolls Royce BR715 engine featured on the Boeing 717.
The newer BR725 is derived from this BR715 engine. Two years later, the company
launched the design and manufacturing of the nacelle, thrust reverser and
exhaust system for the Embraer 190/195, which features the General Electric
CF-34-10 engine. Additionally, Collins Aerospace is currently developing an
advanced nacelle for the Falcon 6X's Pratt & Whitney PW812D engine. As a key
contributor to these platforms, the business has gained an intimate familiarity
with all three engines and stands ready to apply this expertise directly to the
B-52 life-extension program. The program would fit seamlessly with Collins
production systems and commercial platform architectures.
Calling on its 78 years of relevant industry experience, 66 years as part of
the B-52 program, as well as its direct, hands-on experience with the candidate
engines, Collins Aerospace offers the unique and precise capabilities needed
to help extend the iconic bomber's life for decades to come.
To learn more about our innovations for quieter, more efficient propulsion
please visit our Nacelle Systems page.