The Sukhoi-80GP (Su-80GP) Multipurpose Turboprop Transport and Passenger Aircraft is a multifunctional convertible aircraft of new generation. It is designed to cope with a wide range of tasks, firstly on local and regional air lines. Airplane can carry up to 30 passengers, or cargo not exceeding 3300 kg in any geographical or climate conditions. SU-80 is designed for 26-30 passengers. This new plane is equipped with most advanced radioelectronic and other devices, allowing flights to anywhere on the planet. Plane's main advantage is its economic efficiency, i.e. minimum exploitation costs, which makes airfares less.
The development of multirole aircraft S-80 has began in 1989 in Sukhoy OKB as a conversion program. The aircraft was intended for autonomous exploitation from unprepared runways not longer than 400 m. AO "Rybinsk Motors" and "General Electric" has signed up an agreement to start production of CT7-9 engines in Russia in 1996. The S-80 aircraft has high flight speed, can be used on short runways and has high ability in competition on the world market. The aircraft has the ability of autonomous basing for being equipped with extra engine system and can be enhanced as needed.
One plane intended for commuter lines is the S-80, a light multi-role plane, which is the pride of a company that previously specialized in such military hardware as fighters, strike aircraft and tactical bombers. Its conception like that of any other aircraft now under development in Russia, met with difficulty, even though it is now the most complete of all EDB conversion projects. Intended initially for use as a flying operating room, ambulance and first aid aircraft, the planes found a rather restricted market. Analysis of existing and promising markets for aircraft of such size revealed that commuters like the An-2, L-410, An-28 and other types, numbering over 7,000 in the former USSR, are the most capacious.
The fleet of these machines currently in service with airlines is diminishing every year and there are no other planes to replace them. Production of such aircraft, which have long been considered outdated, was discontinued. So the debut of the S-80 on the civil aircraft market as a replacement for the obsolescent commuter fleet was quite timely from all viewpoints.
The passenger version of the S-80P, first with 19 and then 26 seats, was designed for this market. The passenger version of the plane appeared simultaneously with the cargo/passenger model, designated S-80GP. At present, this is the base-line model: its experimental series is now being built by the Komsomolsk-on-Amur aircraft manufacturing association.
The S-80 is an effective transport plane, assuring high profitability of the passenger and cargo carriage. Its advanced aerodynamic configuration, effective high lift system, and large wing aspect ratio allowed it to realize, apart from high flight and take-off/landing characteristics, the very possibility of operation from unpaved and unprepared airfields under the most inclement climatic conditions. The plane boasts a pressurized flight deck and passenger cabin, great autonomy in operation, high reliability and long life.
Its two-beam configuration, matched with high wing, provide maximum convenience for loading/unloading operations. To a large extent, the high merits of the aircraft result from the correct choice of the power plant. In this case, the Sukhoi EDB selected the General Electric's 1,870-hp ST7-9V, one of the world's best turboprops, and the Hamilton Standard propeller. Calculations indicated that an increase in the sale price of the plane, due to the use of imported turboprops and propellers, will be more than compensated by their outstanding reliability, long life and extremely low operating costs. Moreover, the joint venture set up by General Electric and stock company Rybinskiye Motory will produce such engines and also organize their in-service maintenance support on the Russian market.
The state-of-the-art avionics of the plane is also extremely important. A part of the plane is being developed anew (e.g., airborne computers, indicators, navaids), while some are vendor items (radio communication equipment, weather radar, ATC transponder, IFF, etc.). Like the power plant, the avionics equipment of the aircraft meets present day requirements and uses state-of-the-art components. As the S-80 is planned to be produced for export, documentation has been prepared to fit it with the Rockwell Collins avionics.
However, civil passenger and transport aircraft market is not the only one in Russia, one of the world's greatest aviation nations. State and military agencies are also interested in fairly effective and inexpensive aircraft to perform various missions. The Sukhoi EDB has considered using of the aircraft in the interests of the Emergency Situations Ministry, border-security forces, federal search and rescue service, Air Force (as a navigator trainer version), etc. The keen interest of some potential customers both in Russia and abroad was aroused by the S-80PT patrol-transport project, incorporating the Strizh (Swift) base-line equipment, developed by the Leninets research and production complex.
This aircraft version carries an increased amount of fuel in the internal tanks, enabling it to make a 10-12 h long barrage flight, new generators to meet the power demand of the airborne equipment, which has increased ten-fold, weapon control and other systems intended to solve special tasks, etc. The aircraft can execute patrol missions and police sea and land borders day and night, by scanning the air, land and sea areas with the aid of its three independent scanning channels, radar, optical and IR, use suitable weapons as well as trace the routes of petroleum and gas lines, search and rescue the survivors of accidents in sea and on land, in regions plagued by environmental disasters, etc.
In May 2003, the Il-112VT was selected as the Russian Air Force's next-generation airlifter, beating the RSK MiG MiG-110, Sukhoi S-80 and a Tupolev design. The Russian defence ministry estimated 100-120 aircraft would be needed by 2010. The commercial market was estimated at 200 units.
Su-80 is the "new name" for S-80 invented by media. The name was later aquired by producers. The first test flight of a new passenger airplane SU-80, which was several times postponed due to weather conditions, was finally performed on 30 June 2006 in the city of Komsomolsk-na-Amure. 4 flying aircraft were built by KnAAPO for Border Guards and Forest Service.
By November 2006 observers believed that joint ventures for the production of Russian regional planes in China offered a somewhat better prospective. "Soon we can expect the company Sukhoi to sign a memorandum giving China the assembly license for up to 500 30-seat Su-80 planes for local routes (the range of an Su-80 plane is 2450 km)," said Russia/CIS Observer magazine editor Maksim Pyadushkin. "Only that variant will allow Russian regional planes to get into the Chinese market, since otherwise colossal import duties - 40% of their value - are levied for those kinds of vessels."
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