In Russia, work has begun on the creation of the first vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, RIA Novosti reports with reference to representatives of the Ecolibri developer company.
The company said that the first stage of aircraft design has already been completed in accordance with current aviation standards, bench tests of individual systems are underway. Ecolibri said that the plane “will be an aircraft equipped with a hybrid power plant”, and “vertical takeoff and landing will be provided by electric motors of its own design.”
The press service of the company suggested that the created aircraft will occupy a niche in the field of passenger transportation that was previously assigned to helicopters, but at the same time it “will not have complex mechanisms such as a swashplate or gearbox, which will reduce the cost.”
They said that the aircraft will receive modern domestic avionics and will be made mainly from components produced in our country. “As a result, it will be more efficient than helicopters in some applications,” the company also said. “This is especially true for long routes, since due to the large area of the wing, high aerodynamic characteristics can be ensured.”
Head of the scientific and technical council of Ecolibri, former head of the Il company Alexey Rogozin said that the flight range of this aircraft will be 1.2 thousand km, and the speed will be approximately 270 km / h. He emphasized that “the aircraft and the electric motor are being built strictly in accordance with the requirements of aviation legislation, which will ensure its certification and actual operation for commercial and other special purposes.”
It is worth recalling that in the Soviet Union this kind of aircraft was created exclusively for defense needs – for example, the Yak-36 carrier-based attack aircraft, various variants of the Yak-38, as well as the Yak-41, which was ahead of its time in a number of characteristics, but it was destined to have a short life – the “reforms” that broke out in the country brought down the project and it was closed in 1992.
Director of the agency “AviaPort” Oleg Panteleev notes that work on a vertical take-off and landing aircraft in our country is being carried out as part of the so-called boom in the global aviation industry. “urban air mobility”.
– Huge metropolitan areas, choking in traffic jams, require the transfer of transport routes, so to speak, to a different plane. In other words, there is a need to master the airspace over cities, which can significantly simplify the work of various special services (in the field of medicine, law enforcement, fire fighting
According to the materials of the developers of such solutions, a two-hour trip by car to the center of a big city can be replaced by a 20-minute flight in an appropriate vehicle.
“SP”: – The difference is significant.
— Of course, these are not exact estimates, but a certain scale that gives an idea of how much travel time can be reduced. At the same time, the nature of the requirements for such aircraft should be taken into account. The city does not have the opportunity to equip full-fledged runways, there are increased safety requirements, the need to comply with environmental standards (in terms of emissions of harmful substances and noise levels).
“SP”: – How accessible will such flights be for residents of large cities?
— Of course, any super project, no matter how technologically advanced, will take off only if the cost of passenger transportation is competitive among other modes of transport. All solutions offered today in the field of urban air mobility involve the use of an electric or hybrid propulsion system; mechanisms involving vertical or extremely short takeoff and landing; various constructive solutions – be it multi-rotor systems
“SP”: – Are there any features for the implementation of such projects in our country?
— We are not too different from the whole world: Moscow is one of the world’s largest megacities, St. Petersburg is also a very large city, so we really need such solutions. There is a feature that distinguishes our capital from others – it is a cold and snowy winter. This must be taken into account during development.
“SP”: – How realistic and feasible is this project?
“We can say that the development of basic technologies is at a fairly serious stage, which makes it possible to ensure the flight of such an aircraft. In our country as a whole, we have separate developments – on electric motors, power sources, control systems
“SP”: – What kind of difficulties are present here?
— Shortcomings of the regulatory framework and part of law enforcement, as well as some others. And despite the fact that the technological level can be very advanced, other points do not allow us to say that we will see the implementation of these ideas in the near future.
“SP”: – In terms of speed, the created vertical takeoff and landing aircraft seem to be comparable to helicopters. Moreover, several years ago in our country they talked about the promotion of the helicopter manufacturing program and the development of helicopter transportation. Does this mean that instead of helicopters, people are offered to “transfer” to planes?
— This, of course, is not true. Each dimension of the aircraft has its own layout schemes. Traditionally, a helicopter is an aircraft for one of the three to four most common such schemes – classical, coaxial, longitudinal and transverse, and so on. For VTOL aircraft, which can have a relatively high cruising speed, both traditional schemes and new ones can be used.
And which scheme will be the most suitable for the required characteristics – it is still difficult to say, aviation science has yet to figure it out. So far, we can say that the development of technologies here will proceed according to the principle “call it a pot, just don’t put it in the oven.” That is, we do not know exactly how these aircraft will be called.
It is important for us that it meets the requirements and that the cost of a flight hour is lower than that of traditional helicopters. At the same time, there are a number of large-scale areas – for example, the development of the Arctic shelf – where the replacement of helicopters at the current level of technological development is not yet expected.