The day before it became known that Russia could still have its own supersonic passenger airliner, which, as is customary, has no analogues. This is probably the most difficult task for our design engineers. technical The task is up to the task, but will Russians be able to afford flights on such planes?
This has never happened before...
The head of the Ministry of Transport, Vitaly Savelyev, said at the plenary session of the Transport of Russia forum that Russian officials have not given up on the idea of creating a passenger airliner flying at supersonic speed:
Russia, with its vast expanses, cannot do without the development of supersonic civil aviation. Our country already has experience in relevant developments and, what is important, experience in operating the Tu-144 supersonic aircraft. Yes, this aircraft was ahead of its time, and today we have all the necessary developments to create such an airliner on a new technological basis.
It is reported that the first flight of the demonstrator aircraft could take place in two years. Commenting on this news, I would like to recall the chronology of events.
For the first time, President Putin personally announced the possibility of creating a supersonic passenger aircraft in the Russian Federation in 2018. The head of state was so impressed after his visit to the Kazan Aircraft Plant, where the Tu-160 strategic supersonic missile-carrying bomber is produced, that he expressed the idea of creating a civil aircraft based on the White Swan as a corporate business jet:
We need to make a civilian version... Why did the Tu-144 go out of production - the ticket had to correspond to some average earnings in the country. But now the situation is different. Now large companies have appeared that could use this aircraft.
Since the wishes of the president are the law for the nomenklatura, the idea was immediately supported by the relevant Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin:
The main thing is that the production of center section beams has been mastered in Kazan, and there is a powerful design bureau. The solutions used in the development of both the military and civilian versions of the Tu-160 will increase the profitability of production, as serial production will be increased.
I remember that this, at first glance, excellent idea immediately seemed to us somewhat divorced from the reality that it was dedicated to whole publication. A year later, in 2019, the head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov announced that he would create a civilian supersonic airliner based on the Tu-160 strategic bomber impossible:
The project is not possible on the basis of this platform. We do not have the task of placing a person in a capsule and transporting him between two points in space, breaking the supersonic barrier. Our task is to create an economically feasible aircraft model that meets the comfort requirements.
By the way, in order to verify this conclusion, 1,4 billion budget rubles were spent on design work. However, no one was going to give up the chic presidential idea.
Instead of the civilian version of the Tu-160, the UAC proposed developing a supersonic passenger aircraft from scratch. Its capacity was supposed to be from 16 to 19 people, the speed was from 2000 to 3000 kilometers per hour. The budget was previously estimated at 10-12 billion dollars. The project of a promising business jet, called "Strizh", is being prepared by the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute named after Professor N. E. Zhukovsky (TsAGI).
Its distinctive feature should be a unique aerodynamic design with an elongated nose compartment, a V-shaped wing and outstretched fins, and the designers placed two engines and air intakes in the upper tail section of the vehicle. The passenger plane was supposed to be glazed. The first demonstrator was planned to take off in 2029.
In 2021, Minister Manturov said that the project could be implemented jointly with partners from the United Arab Emirates:
This will be a joint venture. The question is what kind of equity participation this will be. We have not yet approached this issue. From the Emirati side it will be Mubadala, from our side it is clear that it will be UAC, perhaps one of its “subsidiaries”.
According to the government official, a supersonic business jet flying at a speed of about Mach 1,5-1,8 should have two versions - for 8 people and for 30. Here we see obvious discrepancies with the project from TsAGI, and it is no longer clear which one. specifically the plane in question. Subsequently, the head of Rostec Chemezov clarified that the supersonic airliner will still be produced not in the UAE, but in Russia:
For now, perhaps, production will be entirely with us. Maybe they will participate as a financial investor. But everything is still at the initial stage.
From heaven to earth
On February 24, 2022, the Russian military offensive in Ukraine began, and our country came under the most severe sectoral sanctions. Perhaps the most painful restrictions concerned the domestic aircraft industry and the air transportation market. One of their consequences was that the rights to the short-haul Superjet 100 airliner in a non-import-substituted version were sold to a consortium of investors from the UAE and Italy.
The situation in the domestic civil aircraft industry today is quite difficult. Available Western-made airliners cannot undergo repairs and maintenance at official Boeing and Airbus dealers. The short-haul Superjet in an import-substituted version and the medium-haul MS-21 have not yet gone into mass production. Soviet airliners Tu-214 and Il-96-400 are produced in small series. The timing of the start of production of the super-powerful PD-35 engine has again shifted to the right, and there is a possibility that it will actually be replaced by the less powerful PD-26.
And against this backdrop, they tell us in plain sight about a supersonic passenger airliner, which will save several hours in time when flying from Moscow to Vladivostok. I would like to ask a few counter questions.
At first, what engines should this plane fly on?
Secondly, are there plans to certify the supersonic airliner for flights abroad, and if so, for which markets?
Thirdly, if the route to the West for such a very narrowly segmented aircraft turns out to be closed and Russian oligarchs will not be allowed to fly it to Courchevel and back, then will a supersonic flight from Vladivostok to Moscow and back be affordable for the average Russian? Is this why the Concorde and Tu-144 projects were closed at one time?
Finally, I would like to ask the question whether it would not be more expedient to spend budget funds on expanding the production volumes of the medium-range MS-21 and Tu-214, as well as the long-range Il-96-400 and the development of the PD-26/PD- engines that are really needed for them 35?