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Frigate Ecojet

The Frigate Ecojet program involves the development of a new wide-body short/medium haul civil aircraft using a brand new aerodynamic and design configuration in accordance with the requirements made for the next generation aircraft. The primary goal of Frigate Ecojet program is the development of a competitive range of new wide-body short/medium haul aircraft Frigate Ecojet based on a fundamentally new, innovative aerodynamic and structural design. Studies were undertaken with a view of defining the most optimal global operating model for the Ecojet integration in view of Russian Avia Consortium (RAC) specific strategic, operational, financial and risk management objectives.

Joint Stock Company Russian Avia Consortium (Rosaviaconsortium) leads the Frigate Ecojet project to develop an optimised short/medium-haul widebody aircraft. Rosaviaconsortium was established in 1995 and initially focused on production of the Tupolev Tu-204 airliner family. Its shareholders comprise private investors, civil aircraft design bureaux and manufacturers and Russian flag-carrier Aeroflot.

Plans initially called for the Ecojet to fly by 2018, offering an innovative triple-aisle passenger cabin and 20-30% lower operating costs compared with similarly sized aircraft in service today for flights of 3,000-4,000km. The designs horizontal elipse-shaped fuselage cross-section accommodates a 12-abreast layout in economy class, seating up to 400 passengers in a single-class configuration. Two-class capacity is 350 passengers, and 302 in a three-class layout, while the cargo hold could accommodate 20 LD-3 containers.

The Ecojets fuselage cross-section results in the aircrafts wetted area being reduced by 4-14% per passenger (depending on the layout) compared with aircraft such as the A340-300 or 777-200. It also has the lowest maximum takeoff weight of any aircraft in its size category (123t), which Rosavia claims could reduce landing fees by up to 50%.

Since the start of the Frigate EcoJet program Rosaviaconsortium had actively cooperated with the Central Aerohydrodynamics Institute (TsAGI). As a result, TsAGI has issued an approval of the Frigate EcoJet technical proposals, confirming the quality of the project. TsAGIs conclusions state that the proposed configuration is feasible, with integrated efficiency 35% higher compared to modern aircraft. It was preceded by the research made by the project team and fine-tuning for the existing airline route networks.

In April 2013 the specialists from TsAGI FSUE and Rosaviaconsortium OJSC summed up the results of the first work cycle in a program to develop the future Frigate Ecojet wide-body, medium-haul plane. The Frigate Ecojet is designed to transport 300 passengers over a distance of 3,500 km at a cruising speed of 850 km/h. The main innovation in the future plane is its use of an oval fuselage (in cross section) with three aisles. This shape is meant to ensure increased passenger comfort and safety.

TsAGI carried out a series of studies on the aerodynamics, strength, stability and controllability of the aircraft over a two-year period. The institutes scientists studied in detail the behavior of the fuselage structure in conditions of excess internal pressure, and identified the planes main characteristics and structural strength parameters. The Frigate Ecojet prototype tests in sub-sonic (T-102) and transonic (T-106M) wind tunnels at TsAGI, demonstrated, that in general the overall aerodynamic design of the aircraft is characterized by a high level of aerodynamic perfection in line with similar aircraft of a standard design, and can be adopted for further work on this project.

Rosavia hopes the Ecojet can satisfy a niche requirement for an ultra-efficient medium-haul widebody as airlines are increasingly forced to misuse aircraft from the Airbus A330/ A350 and Boeing 787 families on much shorter routes than they are designed to fly.

Asia features some routes particularly in the Chinese domestic market which are too dense to be served by narrowbodies. With China stepping up studies on launching its own indigenous widebody program, there is potential for the two nations to co-operate in this market. The project is forecast to break even at 125 deliveries, with the aircraft to carry a sticker price of $110-130 million.

By the end of 2017 "Frigate Ecojet" was completing the work on the pre-design of the wide-bodied medium-haul aircraft FreeJet, intended for operation in the IOM segment (Middle of the Market), according to frigate-ecojet.ru. The take-off weight of the aircraft is 140 tons. It has a range of 3500 km and allows transportation of 300 passengers. The economy of the aircraft is determined by the concept of using the advantages of wide-body aircraft at the cost of narrow-bodied aircraft.

The main problem for developers of these types of aircraft is the lack of modern engines in the class of traction from 20 to 23 TC. As a solution to this problem, the "Frigate Ecocode" designers chose a variant of the design with a marching power unit consisting of 4 engines.

According to the head of the Frigate Ecojet program, Alexander Klimov, the aircraft needs 18-23 tons of thrust, but now there are only obsolete D-18T, RR Trent 500 and RB211 (both manufactured by the British Rolls-Royce), PW2000 (American Pratt & Whitney ). "We have been waiting for and waiting for the PD-18R and PS-90A20, but they are not available yet," he said. "Today, Boeing for its 797 project, an airplane that must replace 757 and 767 simultaneously, is in talks with the world's leading engine manufacturers, will take three to five years, so we decided to go the other way, and Boeing actually gives us a head start for these years, because 797 is aimed at the same segment as our project, but we will make a four-engined aircraft. "

"Compared to the Frigate Ecocat with the 2nd engine, we lost a bit in aerodynamics and weight, but gained a lot of advantages," continues Alexander Klimov. "First, we can use modern engines available in the market, such as PD-14 and some foreign analogues, and secondly, the excess thrust generated due to the use of four engines will make it possible to realize the concept of the so-called more electric aircraft, and thirdly, there are opportunities for applying advanced design solutions, to reduce harmful emissions, noise levels, that is, Freejet is on the trajectory of the development of the aircraft of tomorrow."




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