TsAGI Continues Working on Slon Transport Aircraft
7 July 2022
Scientists at TsAGI (a part of NRC “Zhukovsky Institute”) are working to improve the aerodynamic configuration of Slon (‘the Elephant’), the new heavy transport aircraft. The work is performed under a state contract with the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation within the ‘Technologies—Transport—2’ R&D.
Earlier, two cycles of research were performed on this project aimed at studying the aerodynamics of the aircraft at different flight velocities, with visualized model flow to identify the areas of possible optimization.
Basing on results of the tests, the scientists modified the Slon layout. They added an enlarged fuselage cross section for carrying large-sized cargos, a lighter wing-fuselage junction fairing, pylons of improved profiles with nacelles matching the PD-35 engine (relevant nacelles simplified in shape were previously used), and several options of wingtips.
At the next stage, TsAGI Research-and-Manufacturing Complex designed and manufactured new units for aerodynamic model of the airplane. Almost all units had complex surfaces; each surface was processed with a CNC machine. The maximum length of the improved aircraft model is about 2 m; its wingspan is 1.8 m.
Particular attention is paid to removable wingtips of various configurations. Comparing the wingtips’ impact on aerodynamic quality during tests, the specialists will be able to choose the best option.
Till the end of this year, the aircraft model with new elements will have been tested in the T-106 variable-density wind tunnel. The scientists will study its main cruise mode performance, and will confirm the calculated efficiency of modifications.
‘The Slon aircraft is optimized primarily for civilian use. The enlarged fuselage will allow for larger cargo volumes transported at the estimated flight range, and the wing with modified tips will provide high aerodynamic performance,’ said Aleksandr Krutov, Researcher, Center for Complex Integration of Technologies, TsAGI.
The project aims at researching advanced aircraft technologies to replace the An‑124 Ruslan long-range heavy transport aircraft. The Slon will be used for transporting heavy and large-size freight for about 7000 km at 850 kph. The required length of the runway is 3 km. The maximum payload is 180 tons (for comparison: An-124 has a