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alaskan9974
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What drove Soviet airliner tech advancements?

Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:11 pm

Just curious about the Russians on the other side of the iron curtain. What drove the need for technological advancements within the former Soviet Union as far as commercial air travel?

Was it a byproduct of the space race, a need for comparable aircraft as the west to entice developing countries into their sphere of influence, or was it a necessity to keep up with the west as a matter of national pride and proving their system superior?

With a state run airline industry I imagine the major motivation for improvements in airliners would be for efficiency, to reduce usage of national resources such as oil which could lead to the mentality of what is good, is good enough?

I see aerospace companies in post Soviet Russia, and Ukraine still playing catch up to the west. New introductions of types have been made in the past decade, however were met with limited success.

Was the denial or delay in transfer of Western technology and less ability for the government to afford subsidies the main reason for the gap in today's market offerings? Embraer and Bombardier were both relatively new to the markets compared to Russia and former eastern bloc based companies, yet succeeded in introducing aircraft that sold well.
 
Armadillo1
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Re: What drove Soviet airliner tech advancements?

Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:14 pm

oil was cheap at that times.
the main issue still after sales support and maintenancr
 
stratclub
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Re: What drove Soviet airliner tech advancements?

Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:58 pm

A very big driver for the former USSR was to prove that they were better than we are. Look at the total fiasco their SST program was. Their efforts were driven by government mandate with goals for efficiency, safety, innovation etc. being secondary to government mandate. From what I have read, flying on the TU-144 was a horrible and frightening experience.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tupolev_Tu-144
Last edited by stratclub on Wed Mar 20, 2019 6:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
WIederling
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Re: What drove Soviet airliner tech advancements?

Wed Mar 20, 2019 6:16 pm

alaskan9974 wrote:
Just curious about the Russians on the other side of the iron curtain. What drove the need for technological advancements within the former Soviet Union as far as commercial air travel?


Population mobility. You can't create a homogenous society if communities are separate.
( Just look at visible party members birth place. All over the Soviet Union.)
Traveling by plane was oftentimes cheaper than taking a train.
In that vast country landbound infrastructure for traveling is costly if not prohibitive ( perma frost regions )
planes were the right thing. Another adequately performing transport path was high speed ferries along the canals and rivers.
( see the various Soviet Hydro Foil boats. no idea how many were built.)
Murphy is an optimist
 
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Phosphorus
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Re: What drove Soviet airliner tech advancements?

Wed Mar 20, 2019 7:16 pm

Need for mass airtravel was indeed driven by insufficient connectivity by any other way.

Helicopter technology was very important to get to the mineral riches of Siberia; and that helicopter technology was shared with military.

An-2 was the answer to regional connectivity, and Antonov designed it in 1947. It became an ultimate regional airplane, rugged and simple. Up to this day, Russia debates what to replace it with, as Avgas is expensive and difficult to source, and new airframes are not getting built.

Tu-114 and Tu-104 were children of Cold War, cousins of Tu-95 and Tu-16 military planes, respectively.

Tu-134 was Tupolev's compliance with Khruschev's request to outdo the Sud Aviation Caravelle, as Khruschev loved how quiet it supposedly was upfront.

Il-18 an An-10 were designed as workhorses to connect USSR throughout. Il-18 was immediately designed to operate from hard surfaces, and that ensured its long life, even though it was not really economical. An-10 was THE money-spinner for Aeroflot domestically, but its success was its undoing -- able to operate from unimproved strips, it allowed Aeroflot to save on new strips -- thus An-10 was often operating from poor airfields, stressing the frame -- and the frame was full of innovative alloys, at the time when metal fatigue was not really understood. Resulting crashes grounded the type.

Il-62 was conceived as an ultimate connector of the country, allowing non-stop (or max, 1-stop) flying from Moscow to anywhere within USSR. (Officially, that title was already held by Tu-114, but Aeroflot felt that Tu-114 wasn't perfect, and high-speed turboprop flying was concealing unknown unknowns. As a result, they limited Tu-114 to a small number of long-haul routes, and made sure a fling lab Tu-114 was replicating their usage. When cracks began to appear, Tu-114 was withdrawn for good). Also, it became a flagship for international flying, including trans-Atlantic (for a while, I gather Il-62 was world's largest pax plane?)

Tu-154 was the most ubiquitous jet airliner in USSR, and its prominence was driven by increasing needs for transport, and highly subsidized flying. Suddenly, everyone flew, and Tu-154 was the answer.
Il-86 was developed based on the same logic, but as a bit of a relief airplane -- its purpose was to haul people from Moscow and Leningrad to Black Sea coast -- as demand was impossible to meet with existing airplanes and airport infrastructure -- hence a widebody with in-built airstairs and self-carry of luggage to the lower deck.
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stephanwintner
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Re: What drove Soviet airliner tech advancements?

Wed Mar 20, 2019 9:13 pm

Can anyone knowledgeable comment on the Design Bureau / Factory organization the Soviets used? It seems bizarre to me, from what little I understand. Did it hinder their efforts?
 
WIederling
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Re: What drove Soviet airliner tech advancements?

Wed Mar 20, 2019 10:25 pm

stephanwintner wrote:
Can anyone knowledgeable comment on the Design Bureau / Factory organization the Soviets used? It seems bizarre to me, from what little I understand. Did it hinder their efforts?

separation of design and building.

it should have provided for nigh perfect documentation and good interface definition.
Similar advantage Airbus got via distributed manufacturing and design.

748 and 787 shew that Boeing did not understand that too well as late as the 2000+.
Murphy is an optimist
 
stephanwintner
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Re: What drove Soviet airliner tech advancements?

Wed Mar 20, 2019 10:58 pm

WIederling wrote:
stephanwintner wrote:
Can anyone knowledgeable comment on the Design Bureau / Factory organization the Soviets used? It seems bizarre to me, from what little I understand. Did it hinder their efforts?

separation of design and building.

it should have provided for nigh perfect documentation and good interface definition.
Similar advantage Airbus got via distributed manufacturing and design.

748 and 787 shew that Boeing did not understand that too well as late as the 2000+.


Well, I'd agree Boeing didn't do well on that, at least from what I saw of it. But it is precisely good integration and low barriers between design and manufacturing that is core to my own work as an engineer - absent that, I find designs are often either difficult to manufacture & inspect, or the design is poor because it held to incorrectly understood or communicated manufacturability needs, when a better design (lighter or cheaper or whatever) would have been possible in an ideal world....I suppose that's why the Soviet system strikes me as odd.
 
WIederling
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Re: What drove Soviet airliner tech advancements?

Thu Mar 21, 2019 8:47 am

stephanwintner wrote:
WIederling wrote:
stephanwintner wrote:
Can anyone knowledgeable comment on the Design Bureau / Factory organization the Soviets used? It seems bizarre to me, from what little I understand. Did it hinder their efforts?

separation of design and building.

it should have provided for nigh perfect documentation and good interface definition.
Similar advantage Airbus got via distributed manufacturing and design.

748 and 787 shew that Boeing did not understand that too well as late as the 2000+.


Well, I'd agree Boeing didn't do well on that, at least from what I saw of it. But it is precisely good integration and low barriers between design and manufacturing that is core to my own work as an engineer - absent that, I find designs are often either difficult to manufacture & inspect, or the design is poor because it held to incorrectly understood or communicated manufacturability needs, when a better design (lighter or cheaper or whatever) would have been possible in an ideal world....I suppose that's why the Soviet system strikes me as odd.


IMHO unofficial shortcuts to the shop floor are detrimental to the design process.
Designing for manufacturing and product quality control ( beyond the basic function ) is a must.
Integration is everything. Look into automotive design and production. Good production systems are a symphony :-)
Murphy is an optimist
 
ELBOB
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Re: What drove Soviet airliner tech advancements?

Thu Mar 21, 2019 8:57 am

stephanwintner wrote:
absent that, I find designs are often either difficult to manufacture & inspect, or the design is poor because it held to incorrectly understood or communicated manufacturability needs, when a better design (lighter or cheaper or whatever) would have been possible in an ideal world....I suppose that's why the Soviet system strikes me as odd.


Bear in mind that the dsign bureau built the prototypes themselves, so they had direct feedback from their own factory floor as to any major problems.

Once the design was allocated to a production plant there was a two-way channel and the plant often fed-back ideas for improvements to the bureau.

It's really not much different to how Boeing or Airbus operate, except the names of the design and production facilities differ. Joe the Sealant Applicator in Renton hasn't any more early input to the early design process of the 797 than Ivan the Riveter did in Samara.
 
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Phosphorus
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Re: What drove Soviet airliner tech advancements?

Thu Mar 21, 2019 9:17 am

ELBOB wrote:
stephanwintner wrote:
absent that, I find designs are often either difficult to manufacture & inspect, or the design is poor because it held to incorrectly understood or communicated manufacturability needs, when a better design (lighter or cheaper or whatever) would have been possible in an ideal world....I suppose that's why the Soviet system strikes me as odd.


Bear in mind that the dsign bureau built the prototypes themselves, so they had direct feedback from their own factory floor as to any major problems.

Once the design was allocated to a production plant there was a two-way channel and the plant often fed-back ideas for improvements to the bureau.

It's really not much different to how Boeing or Airbus operate, except the names of the design and production facilities differ. Joe the Sealant Applicator in Renton hasn't any more early input to the early design process of the 797 than Ivan the Riveter did in Samara.


A significant difference is that, however, Soviet production plants had to deal with multiple design bureaus, and oh boy, there are legends regarding the completely different design philosophies of each major house. Adjusting to production of a new type could be very disruptive, but doubly so if it came from an unfamiliar design bureau.

Another difficulty was the competition for assembly floor space and other resources between military and civilian programs, and between manufacturing and MRO work (Voronezh is often cited as a typical hotbed of disagreements on who's work gets done).
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SAAFNAV
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Re: What drove Soviet airliner tech advancements?

Thu Mar 21, 2019 10:51 am

Phosphorus wrote:
A significant difference is that, however, Soviet production plants had to deal with multiple design bureaus, and oh boy, there are legends regarding the completely different design philosophies of each major house. Adjusting to production of a new type could be very disruptive, but doubly so if it came from an unfamiliar design bureau.


This statement just begs for some stories to be told. I for one would be thrilled if you'd type them out for us.
CFI/Gr. III, L-382 Loadmaster, ex C-130B Navigator
 
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Phosphorus
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Re: What drove Soviet airliner tech advancements?

Thu Mar 21, 2019 2:02 pm

SAAFNAV wrote:
Phosphorus wrote:
A significant difference is that, however, Soviet production plants had to deal with multiple design bureaus, and oh boy, there are legends regarding the completely different design philosophies of each major house. Adjusting to production of a new type could be very disruptive, but doubly so if it came from an unfamiliar design bureau.


This statement just begs for some stories to be told. I for one would be thrilled if you'd type them out for us.


Next week will try to find more time to write, but here go a couple of famous examples:

toilets -- for unobvious reasons (in planned economy, where nearly everything was supposed to be as unified and standardized as could humanely be) were uniquely designed by each airplane design house. Builders were not happy, but could live with this. Maintenance was absolutely livid. Yakovlev's models were notorious for needing manual (and I mean no gloves) fixing of contaminated (by feces) components; cuts were common, and maintenance people would get very problematic wounds.

composites and new alloys -- Antonov was really pushing for new materials, but other design bureaus were more conservative (Tupolev relied on political lobbying and bullying, to get his way, for example. Ilyushin tried to build planes rock-solid/over-engineered, and forget the rest.). As a result, Tashkent aviation plant, for example was told to both be ready to continue to make Il-76 transport as before, while preparing to retool for making An-70 wing, containing a single, full-length, composite beam. This hasn't happened (USSR collapsed, An-70 didn't reach series production), but Tashkent was figuring out a set-up with a special shop floor to accommodate this beam, and ended up with planning a fully manual assembly. This didn't look too good, as one of the reasons for innovation was increased productivity -- and here they were, setting up a manual production workshop, because automation could not keep up.

of course, all of them were locked in a constant battle with engine makers and subsystem suppliers, and simultaneously, as a Ministry of Aircaft Production, all of these fought with Aeroflot, who hated their guts and craved Boeing 747 or L-1011 or other famous imported types (classical problem of single supplier-single customer relationship. BAC -- BOAC fights are a good example in the West).
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