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The Changing Appearance Of Russian Airliners

Fri Apr 01, 2005 2:34 pm

Russian Jetliners seem to be losing the traditional Russian look.

I have noticed that the newer Russian airliners seem to look more like Western aircraft than like the classic Russian airliners of yesteryear. TU-134's, for example, have that classic Russian appearance to me -- slightly downward-sloping wings, circular windows, and landing gear that retracts into bulges on the wings. I'm wondering why the newer Russian Jetliners (such as the TU-204 and TU-334) look more like "copycats" of American-made aircraft than like the traditional Russian Jetliners.

Could the traditional Russian appearance be less appealing to potential customers (airlines) than the "western" appearance, thus forcing Tupolev, etc. to "copycat" western designs in order to stay in business? (Personally, I find variety to be the "spice of life", and find that traditional Russian look of TU-134s, etc to have charm and beauty of their own). Or, could "copycating" Western aircraft architecture be the only way to make Russian aircraft as fuel-efficient as their western rivals?

If not, then I think it would be interesting if there were a newer version of a TU-134, with the same basic body design as it's predecessors, but with more modern engines (that are quieter, more fuel-efficient, and emit less smoke if any at all) and perhaps some minor airframe modifications if important.

Feedback/opinions would be greatly appreciated.
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RE: The Changing Appearance Of Russian Airliners

Fri Apr 01, 2005 6:42 pm

The look and shape of the old Ilyushins and Tupolevs was greatly influenced by conditions (both airport and meteo conditions) in the regions where those aircraft operated. It was not uncommon for Tu-154s to use grass strips in the outbacks of Siberia - hence the beefy landing gear. It's sharp nosed look, as well as the negative wing dihedral, were partly to the benefit of aerodynamics - to decrease the takeoff roll and improve near-ground performance (because of the ground effect). Also, though I don't know to what extent did this influence flight, the dense, cold air of the former Soviet regions was a drag hazard, so to be more efficient, aircraft had to be more aerodynamic (probably one of the reasons why at the time of the collapse of the Union, Soviet aerodynamic science was a few steps ahead of western one).

Also, to be tough and able to withstand the rigors of flying in the Union, Tupolevs and Ilyushins were somewhat heavier than similar western aircraft - requiring powerful engines which were nothing close to economical - but with the vast natural resources of Siberia, that didn't present a short-term problem.

The more "conservative" appearance of modern Russian aircraft is most probably due to the fact that Western aircraft use a decades-proven formula - and in cash-stripped Russian aviation, experimentation in a competitive market is a risky business. The strict EU and North American noise and pollution regulations to be met leave little room for experimentation anyway.

To add to that, most airports with international traffic are modernized and no longer require the powerful, heavy and noisy aircraft of the 80s and early 90s.
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RE: The Changing Appearance Of Russian Airliners

Sun Apr 03, 2005 7:03 am

Was NASA copying Russian rockets after the USSR beat the USA into space?

Unlikely. Just because something looks superficially the same doesn't mean that it's been copied. The Russians have their own vast aerospace knowledge and their aircraft are designed to cope with very different environments than those in the West.

Besides the Tu-334 doesn't look like any Western aircraft I've seen.  Wink
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RE: The Changing Appearance Of Russian Airliners

Sun Apr 03, 2005 7:15 am

There was a joke when I was a kid, during the cold war:

Question: "Who is the greatest Russian inventor?
Answer: "T.M. Reguspatov"

That is
"T.M. Reg. US Pat. Off."
or "trademark registered, United States Patent Office"

Russia had reverse-engineered the B-29 and possibly some other aircraft, so the reputation was not completely undeserved.
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
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RE: The Changing Appearance Of Russian Airliners

Sun Apr 03, 2005 9:23 am

Quoting SlamClick (Reply 3):
Russia had reverse-engineered the B-29 and possibly some other aircraft, so the reputation was not completely undeserved.

It's my understanding they even copied the bullet hole patches from the interned B-29 they used as a pattern. Better that than visit the gulag for failing to copy it accurately.
"There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as being shot at and missed" --Winston Churchill
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RE: The Changing Appearance Of Russian Airliners

Mon Apr 04, 2005 2:06 am

If I may be permitted to take this discussion in a slightly different direction.

Back in the late-60s early seventies, most Russian jet airliners either had rear-mounted engines (Tu-134, Tu-154, Il-62 etc) or engines buried in the wing-root (Tu-104). The reason for this is the fact that the Russians did not have the knowledge required to mount podded engines on the wings. Their aerodynamics program had not been able to unravel the engine-wing interactions required for the most optimal positioning of the engines. During the 1969 Paris airshow the Russian delegation sat with Joe Sutter and the group from Boeing and basically exchanged knowledge. Boeing provided some tips and ideas on podded engine placement on the wings while the Russians provided information on efficiently milling titanium (they were the undisputed leader in the field of titanium extraction and milling). Eversince, all new Russian passenger aircraft designs (Il-86, Il-96, Tu-204, Tu-214 etc.) have used the more western podded engine configuration. For a more detailed (and entertaining) description, I would refer you to Clive Irving's Wide Body:The making of the Boeing 747. This information is on Chapter 13 - Don't let the Russians near the Bible.

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RE: The Changing Appearance Of Russian Airliners

Wed Apr 06, 2005 7:39 am

Quoting N60659 (Reply 5):
basically exchanged knowledge.

Agree with that. It was required for the SST program wasn't it ?

Quoting N60659 (Reply 5):
Clive Irving's Wide Body:The making of the Boeing 747. This information is on Chapter 13 -

I read this. An excellent book that went into detail on difficulties of 707 and 747 programs. Especially how the 747 almost bankrupted Boeing.
By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?

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