Russia Looks To Join The Supersonic Flight 2.0 Race

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The Russian Federation is looking to create a supersonic passenger aircraft research center to join the new race for a supersonic commercial aircraft. Now, with the help of a grant from the federal government, the aim will be to establish a world-class scientific center capable of designing a low-sonic boom aircraft.

Tu-160
Russia could use the Tu-160 as the model for a new supersonic passenger plane. Photo: Vitaly V. Kuzmin via Wikipedia

Creating the plane would also involve the study of material strength, acoustics, vibrations, emissions, fuel efficiency, and the use of artificial intelligence. Spearheading the new initiative is the Moscow-based Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute, who, during the study, is expected to obtain breakthroughs in new aircraft technology.

Cockpit augmented-reality technology

Things already being talked about include new innovative designs that can cut down on noise. There is also talk of using augmented-reality technology on the flight deck. In charge of overseeing the project will be the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, an organization that was founded by President Vladimir Putin in 2018.

When speaking about the project’s goals, aviation website FlightGlobal quotes Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute director-general Kirill Sypalo as saying,

“Within the framework of this project, we plan to work out the fundamental problems of future supersonic aviation.”

The 49-year-old Moscow Aviation Institute graduate discussed how the institute had established a group of companies, including high profile names like the GosNIIAS aviation systems center and the Gromov flight-test center. Along with these two big names in Russian aerospace is the Baranov aircraft engine institute.

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The government will spend $204 million

Sypalo says that the new science center would look at the viability of supersonic flight while at the same time what environmental impact it would have on the planet. Under the mandated government funding, 60 applications were received looking to get a slice of the Rb15.5 billion ($205 million) that will be spread over the next four years.

The research into supersonic passenger flight came under the field titled intelligent transport systems. Others included robotics, healthcare, energy efficiency, social studies, and agriculture.

The idea of Russia wanting to have another look at supersonic passenger planes is not that far fetched and something President Vladimir Putin talked about while visiting Kazan earlier this year.

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Tu-160
The Tu-160 is a Russian supersonic bomber that has been updated with new technology. Photo: Alex Beltyukov via Wikimedia

The new plane’s idea would be based on the Tu-160 strategic bomber, the largest and heaviest Mach 2 supersonic military aircraft ever built. The state-controlled international television network, Russia Today, quotes the president as saying,

“We now need to go back to supersonic passenger travel. We should think about it.”

When speaking about a civilian version of the Tu-160, Putin added,

“Everything is running like clockwork, so why not also create a supersonic passenger plane?”

The Tu-44 was too costly

This isn’t the first time Putin talked about building a supersonic passenger plane, having commented on it last year after watching a test flight of the new updated Tu-160.

Tu-144
The Tu-144 was considered to be too expensive and unsafe. Photo: Oleg Belyakov via Wikimedia

Following the flight, he mentioned Russia’s supersonic Tu-144 passenger plane, saying it was too costly at the time. He said the economic situation in Russia now is different and that there are Russian companies capable of operating a Russian-built supersonic commercial aircraft.

Can you see Russia building a supersonic passenger plane in the future? Please tell us what you think in the comments.

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