@charset "utf-8"; /* CSS Document */ p { font-family: "Comic Sans MS", sans-serif; font-size: 20pt;} blockquote { width: 100%; font-size: 18pt; font-style: italic; font-family: 'Comic Sans MS', sans-serif; margin: 10px 10px 10px 10px; padding: 10px; } h1 { h1 class="title"; font-size: 14pt; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 0; line-height: 1.2; font-family: 'Comic Sans MS', Arial, sans-serif; color:#000000; text-transform: uppercase;} .da_body h1 { font-size: 40px; margin-bottom: 5px;margin-top:0; line-height: 1.2; font-family: 'Comic Sans MS', Arial, sans-serif; color: #123D63}

HomeNewsArticle Display

314th AW trains Air Force’s first Block 8.1 students

1st Lt. Justin Click, 62d Airlift Squadron student pilot, prepares to taxi in a C-130J Super Hercules that has undergone the 8.1 block upgrade

1st Lt. Justin Click, 62d Airlift Squadron student pilot, prepares to taxi in a C-130J Super Hercules that has undergone the 8.1 block upgrade at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, July 14, 2021. Click is one of two students who will be the first Airmen to reach their initial duty station fully qualified on operating any C-130J that has undergone the 8.1 upgrade. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jayden Ford)

1st Lt. Justin Click, 62d Airlift Squadron student pilot, enters flight data into a C-130J Super Hercules that has undergone the 8.1 block upgrade

1st Lt. Justin Click, 62d Airlift Squadron student pilot, enters flight data into a C-130J Super Hercules that has undergone the 8.1 block upgrade at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, July 14, 2021. Since 2018, the 314th AW has been working toward the Block 8.1 transition – training instructor pilots to become subject matter experts on all of the upgrade’s technological advancements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jayden Ford)

A pilot from the 62d Airlift Squadron flies a C-130J Super Hercules that has undergone the 8.1 block upgrade

A pilot from the 62d Airlift Squadron flies a C-130J Super Hercules that has undergone the 8.1 block upgrade at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, July 14, 2021. Since 2018, the 314th AW has been working toward the Block 8.1 transition – training instructor pilots to become subject matter experts on all of the upgrade’s technological advancements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jayden Ford)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. ­­-- The C-130J Super Hercules community achieved another milestone toward its fleet-wide transition to the Block 8.1 upgrade, as two students from the 314th Airlift Wing’s C-130 formal training unit recently became the first to pilot a Block 8.1 aircraft within the training pipeline.

These pilots will be the first from the student pipeline to reach their initial duty station fully qualified to operate any C-130J that has undergone the 8.1 upgrade.

Since 2018, the 314th AW has been working toward the Block 8.1 transition – training instructor pilots to become subject matter experts on all of the upgrade’s technological advancements.

The Block 8.1 upgrade boosts navigation and inter-communication systems, updates friend-or-foe identification and standardizes aviation systems, which will improve interoperability across the fleet. The modification also allows the C-130J to comply with worldwide air traffic management regulations.

Previously, the Block 6.0 navigation system only allowed limited use of GPS area navigation, or RNAV, forcing the aircraft to primarily utilize legacy ground based systems for navigation.  With the update, the pilots can now fully utilize RNAV arrivals, approaches, and departures, allowing for more direct paths outside the coverage of navigation beacons.

“As the airspace system modernizes, they're going away from the more out of date navigation aids and they're adding in new GPS requirements,” said Maj. Sean Fitzgerald, 62d Airlift Squadron chief pilot. “This upgrade will allow us to utilize some of the newer technology that's out there in aviation. We'll be able to make more precise calculations – allowing us to get into more airfields.”

Block 8.1 also improves the lighting systems in the aircraft, adding infrared lights in various sections of the plane to allow for aircrew to have better visibility when operating under the cover of darkness.

“When we deploy to certain locations, many of the missions that we carry out happen at night to mitigate potential exposure to threats,” said Tech. Sgt. Edwin Baxley, 62d AS tactics officer. “We don't want to highlight ourselves, so we use infrared lighting. The Block 8.1 lighting system allows us to focus more light into areas where we could not see as well before and fine-tune what is being lit at specific moments.”

The upgrade was initially tested in 2017 when the 19th Airlift Wing’s 61st Airlift Squadron conducted a training flight testing the first Block 8.1 upgraded C-130J. In the years following the initial test, the 19th and 314th Airlift Wings also tested the system, working with Lockheed Martin to report issues.

Since then, the 314th AW has pursued training expert 8.1 instructor pilots and loadmasters to instruct the next generation of C-130J aircrew.

“We spent a lot of time trying to familiarize ourselves so that when the new syllabus rollout happened, we were certified and capable of taking them out on an 8.1 tail, and completing syllabus-required mission sets,” Baxley said.

As well as training themselves and their students, the 62d AS also provided insight to airlift squadrons under the 19th Airlift Wing and 913th Airlift Group and have now spread their knowledge overseas, serving as the beacon for the upgrade’s rollout across the entire Air Force.

“Our squadron has been helping other units on base work through the upgrade process as they transition from 6.0 to 8.1 tails,” Fitzgerald said. “Now we are helping with Ramstein Air Base’s Block 8.1 initial cadre setup. We are writing them syllabi on how to manage the process and have already been sending loadmasters [from the student pipeline] who are certified on both [6.0 and 8.1] tails and eventually, we'll be sending them 8.1 pilots.”

With the squadron now instructing its first two 8.1 student pilots, Fitzgerald hopes they will charge forward at their initial assignments and accelerate change in the C-130J community.

“Starting them right out of pilot training – that's the first thing they’ve learned and they're going to build on that knowledge for the rest of their career,” Fitzgerald said. “We're laying the foundation here so that they can go out operationally and advance these capabilities. The students we're training today are going to be the ones who take it [Block 8.1] across the finish line to its fully realized capability of what we can do with this aircraft.”

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.