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The original airport terminal

Marshalling yard

Gary Parsons goes behind the scenes at Marshall Aerospace at Cambridge Airport

Left: The original airport terminal building still stands, now converted into office buildings for the Chairman of the company.

Right: The Airport is approved by the MOD as a flight test airfield for military aircraft but also holds a Public Use Licence and can accept the operation of public transport aircraft up to typically Boeing 747 or Airbus 320 size. Operations have been assisted by the construction of a brand-new 30m high control tower, bringing up-to-date ATC to this historic airport.

Teversham's new tower

One of Allison's finest

Left: From the airfield perimeter, it is difficult to appreciate the scale of the maintenance operations at Teversham - a veritable Tardis, the hangars house an enormous number of aircraft in various states of assembly. Here an Allison T56-A-15 engine (4,910 shaft horsepower) undergoes pre-installation checks.

Right: At any one time, Teversham houses twenty percent of the RAF's fleet of Hercules. Marshall Aerospace is the leading design, modification and service centre for C-130 Hercules aircraft outside the USA. Hercules aircraft from over thirty operators world-wide have passed through the Cambridge facility. Examples from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, South Africa and many other nations can often be seen arriving for deep maintenance or conversion. Here Norwegian C130H 954 'Odin' from 335 Skv at Gardermoen receives some TLC. The Norwegian Air Force grounded all six of its C-130 transport aircraft during February after discovering cracks in the wing structure on half of them. They were subsequently returned to service in March. Norway has expressed an interest in replacing its C-130Hs on a one-for-one basis with C-130Js.

Norwegian Blue? It is not an ex-Hercules, but a healthy one

I'm sure I put that wing somewhere...

Left: Just how far the maintenance goes is shown by the removal of both main wings from 954. It is a logistical exercise in itself just to manoeuver the aircraft around the hangars, 'musical chairs' being played out on most days of the week somewhere in the factory!

Right: One of the biggest changes in recent years has been the introduction of the 'J variant of the C130. Here the new six-bladed propellers are stored - the protection applied to each one shows the attention to detail that makes Marshall Aerospace one of the most respected aviation companies in the world. The Dowty propeller is matched with the Rolls-Royce/Allison AE2100 engine, and its modular design and uncomplicated systems allow quick and easy installation and maintenance. With fewer parts and very strong all-composite blades, the new generation propeller systems are more efficient as well as being quieter and safer. They also offer lower life cycle costs for operations, an increasingly important factor within national defence budgets.

Props propped up

South African C130H

Left: Typifying the international theme was the presence of three C130s from the South African Air Force. Here 'F model 408 is having trials equipment removed - 'B model 407 was also present in a similar state of undress, while 'F 409 was complete and ready for air-testing. The SAAF C-130 fleet began a major update programme in 1997. The joint Denel/Marshall Aerospace programme will extend the airframe life by around 20 years and reconfigure the cockpits with Sextant avionics. In addition to the autopilot, the upgrade embodies large liquid crystal flight displays, navigation systems upgrade, integrated communications and self defence, all fed by a substantially enhanced electrical generation system. Marshall believes the upgrade will provide a major reduction in crew work load and corresponding improvement in operational capability. The last rebuilt aircraft will be handed over in 2002.

Right, behind C130: As a Lockheed TriStar technical centre and the UK Design Authority for the type, Marshall Aerospace has extensive experience in maintenance and conversion of this wide bodied transport aircraft. It has extensive experience in tanker and freighter conversions for the Royal Air Force, each RAF TriStar having been through Teversham on several occasions. However, the only example to be seen on our visit was this rubbed-down civilian version, about to undergo conversion into a freighter.

A city of two tails...

How big's your garage then?

Left: Marshall's hangar 17 is massive - literally tucked away in the far corner was Boeing 747-436 G-BYGE. Marshall Aerospace has recently won a contract to re-fit the first class accommodation areas for BA's fleet of Jumbos. Each one is turned around in just eighteen working days, as each day in the hangar is another day's lost revenue to BA. Two were in evidence, another being parked outside, but still being worked on.

Right: The company’s painting complex is one of the largest in the world, capable of handling two medium-sized aircraft and a large widebody simultaneously. To provide the conditions necessary to comply with stringent painting specifications, both humidity and temperature are continually monitored and controlled. Here a Hercules (don't ask which one) receives a new coat of air-force grey - if you're a modeller, don't ever complain about the amount of masking needed again! As well as traditional painting techniques, the company has considerable experience in the use of long lasting external livery decals.

That's 3 million rolls of masking tape, then...

Bombadier Global Express

Left: Bombardier Aerospace, the world’s third largest manufacturer of commercial aircraft, has designated Marshall Aerospace as the first independently managed authorized service facility in Europe for the Global Express ultra long-range business jet. Marshall has a contract to provide interior completions for the aircraft - flown in direct from the factory in the US, each aeroplane is tailor-finished before a quick test flight and on to the customer.

Right: Just to prove even Teversham's vast 1.2 million square feet of hangar space can get full at times, this is the other Boeing 747-436 undergoing refitting. G-CIVW is c/n 25822/1157, having been bought from new by BA. In 1986 they were part of the largest aircraft order ever, when BA placed an order for 16 plus 12 on option at a value of 4.3bn. The first entered service in July 1989. More orders followed in July 1990, August 1991, and September 1996, making a total of 62. Five were subsequently cancelled in August 1998, but it's still a lot of heavy metal! The 57th and last was delivered in April 1999.

Flying the flag


Left: The Royal Air Force was the first customer for the advanced C-130J, signing a contract for 25 aircraft in 1995. The aircraft – 10 C-130Js (RAF C5) and 15 C-130J-30s (RAF C4) – will replace C-130K models originally bought in the 1960s. The C4 is a stretched version of the C5, strangely enough. Longer than the standard "J" by 15 feet, the C4 can carry seven pallets of cargo, two more than the standard C5, or 92 paratroopers and their equipment, 28 more than a C5.

Right: ZH887 is one of the first C5s to be delivered, all aircraft operational at Lyneham so far have been the longer C4 variant. To date, Lockheed Martin has orders for 83 aircraft, with options for 63 more. Firm orders include the 25 for the RAF, 12 for the Royal Australian Air Force, 18 for the Italian Air Force, and 28 for the U.S. government.

Cambridge's more successful C5?


For more insights into Cambridge Airport, see our 1999 report and the 90th anniversary celebrations.

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