Following concept studies of delta-winged aircraft presented by Airbus and Boeing, Russian aviation experts of Moscow-based Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) came up with their own triangle-shaped aircraft model called ‘Flying Wing’. A series of tests in the Institute’s wind tunnel will provide in-depth information on the aerodynamic characteristics of Russia’s most ambitious project in civil aviation to date.
Russia has had little luck with civil aircraft projects in the past. For example, the freighter TU-204C, launched with high hopes in 1998, got stuck on the sidings soon after its delivery to
launching customer Transaero Airlines. More serious was the debacle of the 2010-launched Sukhoi Superjet 100, whose reputation was ruined due to poor operational performance and technical mishaps
contradicting over-inflated promises made by the plane maker.
However, now the TsAGI officials think they have an ace up their sleeve.
Low fuel burn, reduced noise emissions
According to the Institute, the "Flying Wing" is one of the most promising future subsonic aircraft projects in both passenger and cargo transportation. It could open a new door, enabling the Russian aviation industry to challenge long-haul aircraft programs offered by Boeing and Airbus, provided its delta-winger can meet the high expectations.
Its main advantage is the ability to achieve high aerodynamic characteristics in cruising mode and reducing vertical noise emissions radically by shielding the engines with its tail fin and parts of the fuselage. Passengers can be comfortably accommodated on two different decks – an important commercial and sales factor. It is estimated that 16 tons of cargo fit in the lower decks of the passenger version of the delta wing aircraft. In terms of dimensions, it is similar to the Airbus A350 and therefore fits into the standard infrastructure of larger airports.
Still many open questions
At this testing stage it is not known if an all-cargo “Flying Wing” is part of the construction program. Completely unknown is also when series production is to begin and at what price the aircraft will be offered to potential buyers.
The current model, now undergoing tests to optimize its aerodynamic characteristics, follows a predecessor that showed adverse effects on the interaction of nacelles, pylons and wings. “In our new configuration, the fuselage is clearly distinguished, which allows to increase transport capacity and reduces aerodynamic interferences,” a TsAGI speaker explained.
It can be assumed that Boeing and Airbus will not stand by until the Russian Flying Wing takes to the air but will actively push their own delta-wing projects ahead.
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