New materials for wing and fuselage structure will cut weight and boost performance

Tupolev has completed the outline specification of a “next-generation” Tu-204 design for service entry by the end of the decade that features a new wing and structural weight reductions.

The programme, which could be the first element of planned airliner developments under the newly formed United Aircraft conglomerate, is designed to put the aircraft’s performance on a par with the Airbus A320 family.

Tupolev chief designer Lev Lanovsky says that, although existing maximum take-off weights of 103-110t will be retained, the “Tu-204NG” will feature the existing fuselage reworked for lower structural weight and an all-new wing. The new fuselage structure will be made of “newer construction materials, such as aluminum-lithium, composites and combined aluminum-composites”, he says.

The Tu-204NG family will comprise models with differing fuselage lengths. “We have two distinct airline requirements – 200 passengers and 5,000km [2,700nm] range, and 110 passengers and 9,000km,” says Lanovsky.

He says the new wing will be a compromise design to meet the specific requirements of European, Russian and Siberian airlines: “Initially we envisioned an optimised wing design for medium-haul routes and for longer ranges.”

Lanovsky adds: “The current wing was sized to provide the specified range with full load. The new one is actually sized to have internal volume just enough to provide sufficient stowage for the main landing gear.”

The new wing will have a smaller area and lower aspect ratio to reduce the structural weight, but will retain “almost the same” lift-to-drag ratio. Russian airlines have told Tupolev they would trade the existing Tu-204’s “excessive” fuel capacity for reduced structural weight and better fuel burn.

If the Tu-204NG proposal is accepted, Tupolev will prepare by July a list of technologies and specifications for the major on-board systems. Lanovsky warns that if Tupolev’s traditional suppliers cannot meet the requirements, then international tenders will be run.


Source: Flight International