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Il-106 Large Transport Project

The Il-106 program stalled at the preliminary design stage in the early 1990s. In the mid-1980s a project to replace the Il-76 and An-22 transport planes was advertised. The competition was attended by OKB O.K.Antonova, OKB S.V.Ilyushin and OKB A.N.Tupolev. The winner was a draft prepared by OKB Ilyushin. Operating an aircraft design that was give the designation Il-106, the project was launched in December 1987. A feature of the design was the presence of two cargo hatches, front and rear, that would greatly speed up loading and unloading.

The plane was to use the new NK-92 high-bypass turbofan , developed in OKB N.D.Kuznetsov. It was planned to start manufacturing the first prototype in 1995, and flight tests - in 1997, but due to the prolonged economic crisis in the country, these plans have not yet been implemented. Only enough funds to make the draft changes resulting from changes in fashions and the advent of air improved systems.

In the 1990s it was planned as replacement for Il-76 in the 2003-2005 time frame. It was designated high priority project #3, but little has been heard of it beyond a model diplayed at a trade show. The Il-106 program was initially expected to enter the flight-testing stage in 1997 but was postponed indefinitely due to the sharp reductions in the actual 1997 and 1998 defense budgets. It was expected that the flight test program would be concluded in 2003-2005.

The Il-106 military strategic transport was designed to carry an 80 ton load for 5000km. The IL-106 is a cantilever all-metal monoplane [vysokoplan] with a semi-monocoque [polumonokok] fuselage. The wing is moderately swept back [strelovidnosti] with vertical airfoil at the endings [zakontsovkah]. The retracting landing gear [Shassi], with multiple supports [mnogoopornoe], provides the possibility of operation from unpaved airfields. The power plant consists of 4 turbojet engines NK-92, located on pylons under the wing. For loading and unloading of cargo and equipment self-cargo aircraft is equipped with two hatchways [lyukami], front and rear. The plane is equipped with a digital EDSU fly-by-wire control system. Flight cockpit crew functions are performed using multifunctional LCD displays.

The NK-92 was under development in 1996 for military use. At that time selected for four-engined Il-106 strategic airlifter, Il-96MK and Il-90-200. Neither of these projects has so far been proceeded with. The performance was the same as NK-93. The Kuznetsov bureau is a pioneer not only of cryogenic fuels but also of propfans. Studies in this field began in 1974, following the so-called 'energy crisis'. The impressive open-rotor NK-62 demonstrator (rated at 245 kN, 55,071 lb st,) was first bench-tested in 1983, recording the unprecedented sfc of only 8.16 mg/Ns (0.28 lb/h/lb st). Several other designs were studied, including engines with the gearbox and fans at the rear (such as the NK-110).

Under chief designer Valentin Anisimov, development focused in 1986 on the smaller NK-93 (initially partnered by the military NK-92). On paper, the NK-93 propfan appeared to be the most fuel-efficient aircraft jet engine ever to be tested. This has tandem gear-driven shrouded contra-rotating front fans, with variable-pitch blades. The first core was tested in February 1988, and the first complete NK-93 engine ran in August 1991. Prototype NK-93 engines had been manufactured by JSC KMPO at Kazan, in co-operation with JSC Motorostroitel and JSC Metallist at Samara. By mid-1992 five NK-93 engines were reported to be on test, and by 1997 running time was stated to have exceeded 10,000 hours. In February 2001 it was reported that CIAM had completed NK-93 testing, and that production was "now planned to begin at KMPO".

On 17 June 2001 Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said that "The market prospects of the NK-93 aircraft engine created in Kazan also look very promising." In the Deputy Prime Minister's opinion, NK-93 is Russia's best aircraft engine today whose performance characteristics surpass the world leaders in the area. At that time commercial production of the NK-93 engine was to be launched not later than 2004. The new Tupolev TU-330 (TU-204-330) airliner was to be propelled by NK-93s.

The NK-93 engine from the Nikolai Kuznetsov Aircraft Engines Association of Companies (including OAO Motorostroyitel company of Samara, Russia) was displayed at the MAKS 2007 Air Show. It was attached to an IL-76 testbed aircraft, next to the old D-30 low bypass turbofan engine used on the operational IL-76 aircraft. The NK-93 engine, as with the NK-92, has a thrust capacity of 18,000kgf, making it the most powerful civilian Russian aircraft engine. The D-30 by comparison has about 12,000kgf and the newest variant of the NK-12 the MP variant 10,000kgf. The most modern Russian civilian engine in service, the PS-90 has 16,000kgf.

The An-70, which is the world's first purpose-built propfan-powered aircraft, began its test program in the late 1990s. Seen as an Il-76 replacement, it had a cargo of 47 tons, versus 57 tons for the Il-76. The prime market was expected to be military, although it is likely also to be used in civilian service.

Russia's "Federal Program of Civil Aviation Technique Development up to 2000" outlines support for some key programs: the Ilyushin 96-300 widebody, Ilyushin Il-114 twin turboprop, Tupolev Tu-204 twin turbofan, Tu-334 twin turbofan, updated Yakovlev Yak-42M regional turbofan, Yak-48 business jet, Antonov An-38 twin turboprop, An-74 transport, and An-70T transport aircraft.

This plan is adequate, but it is clear the even these "priority" programs were not receiving enough funding. To compound this, the design bureaux continue to insist on frittering away precious funding on non-core projects, which are unlikely to prove fruitful in the current climate. For instance, Tupolev was working on the Tu-330 transport, various developments of the Tu-204, while Ilyushin was working on the Il-106 military transport, and twin-engine derivatives of the Il-96. The Government in exchange for meeting the full funding needs of the core programs could insist that others are dropped, but in the climate of the 1990s that seemed a remote prospect.

At the end of 2002 Tupolev assessed that the "departments of Russian Ministry of Defense are saturated by Il-76 and An-124 up to the year 2015." As of 2003, by another estimate, the Russian Armed Forces were not expected to purchase any new types of transport aircraft prior to 2010, as the existing fleet of Il-76 and An-124 satisfied the existing requirements. At that time, the military was expected by around 2010 to start replacing its current fleet of transport aircraft with the Il-106 or its future versions. By 2003 the flight test program date had been moved closer to 2010.

The Ilyushin Il-106 military transport plane being developed in Russia, will need no runway to take off and land, the deputy head of the Ilyushin Aviation Complex said on 11 November 2015. This plane is going to be very big, weighing 80 to 100 tons What makes it so special, however, is its ability to land on a dirt runway, Sergei Velmozhkin told Rossiya 24 TV. The Il-106 was still on the drawing board and the final design was due in 2017. The new plane would be assembled entirely from Russian-made parts, which Sergei Velmozhkin said will be much better than their foreign analogs.




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