Russia's TsAGI tests new airliner shapes

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Russian aerodynamics research institute TsAGI is exploring new airframe configurations and wing shapes for an outline next-generation passenger aircraft.

The main focus areas of the research programme are extra high-aspect ratio wings, new wingtip forms, close integration of the airframe with highly efficient engines, noise reduction, and active and passive systems for reduction in airframe loads, says Zhukovsky-based TsAGI.

Researcher are also looking into adaptive transonic wings, laminar flow streamlining and new, non-traditional airliner configurations.

In October, the institute conducted windtunnel tests on a model of a narrowbody airliner with various wing configurations optimised for cruising speeds from Mach 0.78 to M0.8.

Also tested was a wing with a sweepback of less than 15° with natural laminar flow characteristics. Through the use of the latest supercritical wing sections, the cruising Mach numbers were kept practically the same as in earlier designs, which was previously thought to be impossible, TsAGI says.

A US research paper titled Aerodynamic-structural design studies of low-sweep transonic wings – published in 2008 and authored by Antony Jameson, John Vassberg and Sriram Shankaran – suggested a "sweet spot in the aircraft design space may exist around M0.8 where an unducted fan engine could be utilised, thus leading to large reductions in specific fuel consumption. If it is possible to develop an efficient low-sweep wing of M+0.8 cruise, then other synergies such as efficiencies in manufacturing costs could then be exploited."

One of the new TsAGI wing models featured a high-aspect ratio and a new composite skin. A pylon that was tested on the wing featured a protrusion on the wing upper surface.

Following the test, TsAGI commended the new configuration to Russian design bureaux for further development.