PAK-TA Slon [Elephant] TsAGI
A new military transport aircraft is being designed in Russia with the possibility of its conversion into a civilian transport aircraft. The Elephant [RU = Slon] plane is intended to replace the An-124 Ruslan Soviet heavy long-range transport aircraft. This aircraft is designed to transport heavy and bulky goods at a range of about seven thousand kilometers at a speed of 850 km / h. The maximum payload is 180 tons (for comparison, the An-124 has 120 tons). The required length of the runway is three kilometers. "Elephant" is designed for Russian perspective dual-circuit turbofan engines PD-35. The work is carried out under the state contract with the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation as part of the research "Highway Technologies".
The development of the concept of a promising transport aircraft began in 2016 by order of the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The corresponding contract was signed on August 31, 2016, and TsAGI soon began work. The necessary theoretical studies were carried out as soon as possible, after which the main provisions of the project were presented to the public.
The concept project of promising air transport under the working title "Heavy Transport Aircraft" "Elephant" was first presented to specialists and the public during the MAKS-2017 air show. Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute NOT. Zhukovsky worked on the issue of creating a promising machine and proposed the optimal appearance of a transport aircraft of the future.
In the 99th edition of the MAI Proceedings network scientific publication, an article was published entitled “Conceptual Design of a New Generation Heavy Transport Aircraft” dedicated to the Elephant project. Its authors A.A. Krutov, E.A. Pigusov, Yu.N. Chernavskikh and V.I. Chernousov examined the basic prerequisites for the emergence of a promising concept, and also described the research work and the process of finding the main solutions that shaped the look of the future aircraft.
Also, from time to time TsAGI publishes data on work on the “Elephant” and clarifies their current stages. So, at the end of December 2018, the Director General of the Institute, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Kirill Sypalo in an interview for RIA Novosti spoke about recent works, including on the subject of transport aviation. According to him, the work on the project under the contract with the Ministry of Industry and Trade "Elephant" continues. Already purged aircraft models in wind tunnels. Based on the results of ongoing research, recommendations will be formed for design bureaus that are to create a technical project.
On 25 January 2019, TsAGI press service spoke about the solution of a new task within the framework of the TTS “Elephant” theme. The Institute’s specialists made a new aerodynamic model of the aircraft, designed for research. The new model has a curious architecture. As its main loaded element, the central fuselage section is used, to which all other details are hung. This reduced the number of necessary parts, and also simplified the manufacture of the model. In addition, the model is made modifiable: specialists will be able to change various parameters of the aerodynamic shape.
Specialists of the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute named after Professor N.E. Zhukovsky (part of the SEC "Institute named after NE Zhukovsky") continue to work on creating a new heavy transport aircraft "Elephant". By late 2019, an aerodynamic model of a promising aircraft has been manufactured. Previously, TsAGI scientists determined the concept of the future aircraft and designed its design.
The next step was the production of the model itself, which has the following overall dimensions: the maximum length is about 1.63 m, the wingspan is almost 1.75 m, the height is slightly less than 0.5 m. Most of it is made of aluminum alloys, but it’s heavy loaded elements are made of structural steels. This provides a mass suitable for testing in various TsAGI wind tunnels (maximum model weight is 120 kg).
The design of the product is a smooth wing with removable tips, a fuselage, a removable deck horizontal tail with deflectable two-section elevators, vertical tail with a deflectable two-section rudder, flowing nacelles with pylons and a fairing chassis.
“The manufacture of the model of the heavy transport aircraft Elephant was carried out in stages using high-precision CNC machines. The most time-consuming was the work on the wing, which has a complex spatial form to ensure high aerodynamic characteristics at cruising modes, ”said Andrei Sidorov, deputy chief of the technological department of the pilot production of the institute’s research and production complex.
The model is transformable - it can be tested in various configurations. In addition, the technological division of the product provides ample opportunity for modifying the elements of the aerodynamic layout, including changing the shape of the nose and tail of the fuselage, wingtips, and fairings of the landing gear.
Studies would begin on the Elephant model in a T-106 variable-density wind tunnel. Specialists will study its aerodynamic characteristics at cruising modes. For the year 2020, it was planned to continue testing the "Elephant" at the T-106 and T-102, including aerodynamics studies at take-off and landing. It was also planned to visualize the flow around the model.
It is assumed that TsAGI designers will complete the preliminary design and model testing by the end of 2019 and in 2020 will switch to production design. Meanwhile, in addition to the “Elephant”, design of its own version of a transport aircraft called “Ermak” is conducted by Ilyushin Design Bureau.
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