A model of Slon heavy-load transport aircraft built in TsAGI
5 November 2019
The specialists of the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute named after Professor N.E. Zhukovsky (part of the National Research Center Zhukovsky Institute NRC) continue their work on the development of new heavy-load transport aircraft Slon (Elephant). As of today, an aerodynamic model of the advanced aerial vehicle has been built.
Earlier, TsAGI scientists had defined the concept and had designed the structure of the future aircraft.
The next stage was the manufacturing of the model itself, with the following overall dimensions: maximum length — about 1.63 m, wingspan — almost 1.75 m, height — slightly less than 0.5 m. Its major part is made of aluminium alloys, whereas heavy-duty elements — of structural steel. That combination ensures a necessary weight acceptable for tests in TsAGI’s different wind tunnels (the model max weight is 120 kg).
The model design consists of an uninterrupted wing with removable tips, fuselage, adjustable deck empennage with two-section deflectable elevators, vertical tail with two-section deflectable rudder, flow motor nacelles with pylons and landing gear fairing.
According to Andrey Sidorov, deputy head of technological department at the research and manufacturing complex of the institute, “the manufacturing of Slon heavy-load transport aircraft model has been carried out stage by stage, using high-precision СNC machines. The most labour-intensive part was working on the wing that has a complex space form that provides high aerodynamic properties at cruise modes”.
The model is transformable, i.e. it can be tested in various configurations. Besides, the model configuration provides multiple opportunities for modifying elements of its aerodynamic layout, including altering the shape of the fuselage nose and tail, wingtips, landing gear fairings.
In the near future, Slon model is to be tested in the variable-density T-106 wind tunnel. The experts will study its aerodynamic properties at cruise regimes. In 2020, testing in the Т-106 and Т-102 wind tunnels is scheduled, including the investigation of aerodynamics at take-off and landing. It is also planned to perform visualization of model flow.
Slon is to replace the Soviet airlifter An-124 Ruslan. It will be used for heavy and large-size cargo transportation to distances of about 7,000 km with a speed of 850 km/h. Maximum payload — 180 tons (An-124 — 120 tons). Required runway length — 3 kilometres. Slon is being specifically designed to be powered by the Russian advanced ducted-fan engines PD-35. The work is carried out under a governmental contract with the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation within the framework of Magistral-technologies (Highway-technologies) R&D program.