Moscow - Drawbacks and design challenges for the production of supersonic passenger aircraft are excessive compared to subsonic airliners. Noise, sonic boom, high development costs, expensive production materials, overweight, and increased cost per seat are a few of them.
Despite these challenges, Supersonic airliners continue to be the subjects of numerous design studies. Valery Solozobov, deputy director general for design and R&D at Tupolev, told Sputnik news agency that Predesign work on Tupolev's future supersonic passenger aircraft had entered the final stage.
Russian aircraft manufacturer is working with leading scientific institutes of the country in the fields of aircraft materials, engine design, and aerodynamics for the development of its new supersonic plane.
The next phase of the program will cover research and studies on how to reduce noise levels and development of a prototype for preliminary flight testing.
Based on the results of full-scale tests, a decision will be taken on the plane's final technical configuration,Solozobov said.
Tupolev's prospective supersonic plane is expected to be a 30-seat business jet with a Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW) of 70 tons, and a flight speed from Mach 1.4 to Mach 1.8. (Concorde was able to fly with cruising speeds of about Mach 1.6 and Mach 2).
The studies will focus on two primary versions – one on a fixed wing and the other with the variable-sweep wing design. The latter has vast potential for enhancing the aircraft's take-off and landing characteristics, company officials think.
Based on initial assessments, Tupolev's supersonic business jet will cost around $30 million.
Russian President Vladimir Putin argued about the feasibility of creating a civilian version of the Tu-160 for business travel earlier this year, during his visit to the Gorbunov Aviation Factory in Kazan to watch the test flight of an improved Tu-160 heavy strategic bomber.
To date, the only civilian supersonic jets to carry out regular commercial service have been British-French Concorde and Russian Tupolev Tu-144.
The Tupolev Tu-144, which was introduced into passenger service in November 1977, was the first supersonic commercial jet to enter service and the first to leave. It made only 55 scheduled flights before it ceased operations due to safety concerns in June 1978.
Concorde remained in service between 1976 and 2003. Its last commercial flight was in October 2003. After Concorde, there are no remaining supersonic jets in commercial service. Several companies such as Boom and Spike Aerospace Inc. are each working on their proposed supersonic business jet programs.
Headline image: ©JSC Tupolev