News & Publications

Russian Researchers Expect a Leap in Short-haul Efficiency
09 July 2012

Russian researchers continue its efforts to push forward a proposed medium-haul wide-body aircraft design which has been under development since2010 inframework of expanding joint program involving a number of Russian and international research and consultancies organizations, including the Central Aerohydrodynamics Institute, International Association of Air Transport, MATs (Inter-Sector Analytical Center), Infomost Consulting and SH&E / ACF.

Project widely known as Frigate EcoJet was launched in form of a self-funded initiative by Rosaviaconsortium, is a private diversified aviation group involved –among many other projects –in development of civil aircraft inRussia. Over the last 15 years the Rosaviaconsortium team of aircraft engineers was behind development of cargo version of Tupolev Tu-204 (Tupolev Tu-204C, several planes of this type were successfully operated by TNT inEurope) and shortened version of the same aircraft (Tupolev 204-300).

The aircraft is based on a fundamentally new, innovative aerodynamic and structural design. Work on the Frigate Ecojet is being undertaken in conjunction with the Russian center for aviation science at the Central Aerohydrodynamics Institute and stands to become a major platform for advanced design technology and innovation in the Russian aviation industry. The main objective of the program is the development of the Frigate Ecojet, a next-generation wide body short and medium haul aircraft competitive on the international civil aviation market through the application of conceptually new aerodynamic and structural design.

A study of the overall trends in aircraft development and the most advanced Western aircraft design reveals that the traditional aircraft body design has reached the maximum level of aerodynamic refinement and that future design development stands to benefit most from exploiting the application of new aerodynamic schemes. The completely new design approach of the IS-1 aircraft represents an engineering breakthrough potentially satisfying the needs of next generation aerodynamics and serving as a prototype for future development in this area.

The result of the conceptual design phase demonstrated feasibility of a new wide-body aircraft for short and medium haul routes with low technical risks. Aircraft shows high level of safety and comfort, as well as a high degree of competitiveness.

Concurrent with the aircraft development process using an integral aerodynamic scheme, engineers have obtained a wealth of experience and vindicated more than 50 patents.

The aircraft is expected to enter series production in 2014-2016. The operational performance parameters of the Frigate Ecojectis expected to exceed that of the most advanced civil aircraft in 2010 by 15-20%. The main characteristic of the twin-engined aircraft is an elliptical fuselage which would accommodate 300-350 passengers in a three-class, triple-aisle configuration.

Contemporary studies of the global air transport market have revealed a segment of air transport with a flight range of 3000 to4000 kmin which the operation of wide-body aircraft is very effective. Over 56% of all global flights of wide-body long-haul aircraft are actually less than3000 km. In some regions of the world, this percentage is much higher.

Analysis of the Russian air transportation system provides firm data supporting a category of flight range between 500 to3500 kmas the core of a potential target market segment. Consequently, a key market requirement for "range vs. maximum pay load" criteria could be set at3500 km. Another key market requirement is a "single class seat capacity" of 295-300 seats.

Analysis of airline route networks has demonstrated that an Ecojet’s 302-seat version operating at ranges of up to3500 kmwill exceed fuel efficiency parameters of all currently operated aircraft of the same class on these routes by 25%. During flights with 352 passengers on a range of2500 km, the gain in fuel efficiency increases to 30%.

Currently the Frigate Ecojet team is gathering an impressive consortium of international consultants including Ernst &Young, ICF SH&E and Infomost Consulting, as well as Russia’s MATs to study scenarios of future development of the project - either as a stand-alone effort or a part of certain national, e.g. UAC’s potential wide body program, or international venture.