In 1996, KOMETEL, a closed joint-stock company, was organized to develop ekranoplanes. The result of a joint venture with the Central Research Institute "Comet" and leading enterprises aviation Russian industry work has become an experimental ekranolet EL-7 "Oriole". It should be explained here that, unlike the ekranoplan, ekranoplanes (this classification was first introduced by R.L. Bartini) are able to fly not only near the interface between two media, but also outside the coverage area of the underlying surface.
Factory flight tests of the EL-7 took place from September 1998-th to December 2000-th in the waters of the Moscow River and the Irkutsk reservoir. The following year, the Upper Lena River Shipping Company began operational testing of the machine on the Angara and Lake Baikal.
For the first time, information about the E-7 E-gun was presented at the International Exhibition "Rescue Means-2000". The prototype machine was publicly demonstrated at the International Exhibition "Transport of Siberia-2000", held in Irkutsk (awarded a diploma of the exhibition), and then at the international aerospace show MAKS-2001. At the exhibitions, an unusual machine was of increased interest to visitors, including specialists, heads of transport enterprises of various departments and law enforcement agencies.
EKRANOL is designed to carry 8-11 passengers or small loads mainly over the water surface of rivers, lakes and seas, including ice covered in regions with an undeveloped road network. It can be used over snow-covered flat and swampy areas. Provided for the use of the device for tourist-excursion walks, solving patrol, rescue and other tasks.
The main flight modes of the Orioles are realized at altitudes from 0,2 to 2 m. Due to the use of the proximity effect of the ground, the device is a highly efficient vehicle.
The screen effect is manifested in the formation of a dynamic air cushion between the wing and the underlying surface. As a result, the aerodynamic lift increases, the aerodynamic drag decreases as it moves at altitudes lower than the average aerodynamic chord of the wing and, as a result, the aerodynamic quality increases.
"Oriole" is made according to the "composite wing" with a single-chin T-shaped tail. The wing consists of a very small elongation center section with a swept trailing edge and folding large elongation arms attached to it (borrowed from the Yak-18T). This made it possible not only to reduce the size of the hangar rooms, but also to use the existing mooring facilities on water bodies, to moor close to the ships and to make the device more maneuverable in the narrow and busy water areas.
In the middle part of the all-metal center-section are placed the upper and lower aerodynamic shields, which, together with the displacement floats, form a reversing-brake chamber, allowing you to adjust the mileage of the machine.
In the center section there is a power plant, and in the fuselage, made in one piece with it - the pilot's cabin and cargo-passenger compartment. The latter are closed by a common, easy-to-flow lantern.
On the nose of the case there is a pylon with two propellers in the annular channels. Connected with cardan shafts with engines, they, depending on the mode of movement, can change the direction of the thrust vector.
Against the background of solving the most difficult issues of stability and controllability, the creators of the EKR are always faced with the task of choosing a takeoff and landing gear. The amphibiousness of the apparatus and its thrust-to-weight ratio depend on it. After all, it is no secret that the peak of the required thrust of the power plant falls on overcoming the hydrodynamic resistance during the takeoff run.
In this regard, on the EL-7 used blowing from the propellers in the space bounded by the center section of the wing, rear center plate and floats. In this case, the propellers are deflected synchronously with the shields, but in other modes their independent deviation is possible.
The static airbag created in this way provides non-contact movement with the underlying surface at altitudes up to 0,3 m at speeds up to 80 km / h.
With further acceleration, due to an increase in the velocity head, the direction of the thrust vector of the propellers changes, and the unit switches to the dynamic airbag mode.
Thanks to such a takeoff and landing device, the EL-7 acquired amphibious properties with the possibility of self-launching and launching. When taxiing on an air cushion, a front under-center flap is produced, and the machine can turn literally in place.
As can be seen from the illustrations, the screen ship is made according to the catamaran scheme. In this case, the floats are divided into several waterproof compartments, providing the necessary buoyancy in case of damage to one or more of them. Easily removable floats allow operation not only from water, but also from unpaved, marshy and ice areas.
The easy-to-detachable connections of the airframe units make it possible to transport the screen-flying vehicle without dismantling the power plant by Il-76, An-12 aircraft, on railway platforms and trailers.
The main structural materials used aluminum alloy AMG6 and fiberglass, allowing long-term and year-round operation "Oriole" in river and sea conditions.
The frame of the cab and cabin lantern is plastic. The windshield triplex is equipped with a mechanical wiper (type car wipers) and electric heating device.
Ring nozzles of propellers increase their thrust at low speeds, protect them from foreign objects and prevent others from falling into rotating screws, reduce noise on the ground. Propulsion rings are made of plastic, with metal power elements for fixing them on a pivoting beam. As already noted, in the starting position, the air jets from the propellers are sent under the center section, in the cruise position - above the center section.
There are two automobile engines installed on the screen, which are located separately in the right and left center sections. Each of the motor units, in addition to the engine with clutch, gearbox, muffler-resonator and other units, includes a fuel tank. The volumes of the engine compartments allow the placement of other types of engines, including diesel and aircraft, with sufficient power. However, their dimensions will not distort the external surface of the center section.
On board the EL-7 a necessary set of flight and navigation equipment is provided, including a satellite navigator of the JPS type. In addition, there are power supply systems, lighting and external alarm systems, ventilation and heating of the passenger compartment and engine compartments, fire extinguishing. Marine equipment and rescue equipment are also installed.
Radio equipment complies with the requirements of the River Register of Russia for ships with a small displacement and provides reliable radio communication with ships and ground points using short-wave and VHF radio stations.
Deviations of the elevator and aileron are carried out, like on airplanes, with the help of a steering column, and the rudder - with pedals. To relieve loads from the handwheel and pedals, use trimmers on the elevator and the left aileron and the rudder servo compensator.
In addition to the rudder, the heading can be controlled by changing the revolutions of the engines or the pitch of the screws, turning off one of the propellers by means of the clutch, as well as deflecting the rear flap sections with electro-switches on the pedals.
The length of the run, if necessary, can be changed by releasing the guards of the reverse-brake chamber.
The tests of the EL-7 began in September in Moscow on the 1998-th with the testing of the control system when driving on water, including the blown mode. At the same time, the available thrust and aerodynamic unloading of the vehicle were determined using blowing and blowing the center section in the parking lot.
In January, the 1999 th screen was loaded into the IL-76 and relocated to Irkutsk, where it was tested in the conditions of the Siberian winter. The first flight using the inflator was made at the Irkutsk reservoir 16 February. Four days later, V.V.Kolganov on the EL-7 with automobile engines ZMZ-4062 with the power of 150 hp I tested the screen mode in a cruising configuration (guards removed, screws in the cruising position) at a speed of 80-110 km / h.
Making sure that the ZMZ-4064.10 turbocharged engines (210 hp) are not expected in the near future, and the ZMZ-4062.10 power is not enough to fly with a load, BMW S38 automobile engines were installed on the screen.
With the BMW 20 (or S38) engines in August 1999, V.Kolganov demonstrated the launch of the car on the water using blowing, flying near the screen in a cruising configuration and then going ashore.
Since December, the 1999 has been piloting EKG Shcheblyakov, who soon demonstrated a flight at altitudes up to 4 m with maneuvering along the course. Five days later, the device rose to a height above 15 m and demonstrated its capabilities in flight outside the range of the underlying surface.
The tests were quite successful, and in February, the first long-distance flight took place on 2000. Flying over the Angara waters (at a distance of 10-12 km from the source from Baikal, the Angara does not freeze) and the Baikal ice in the on-screen and in aircraft modes, the EL-7 successfully demonstrated its capabilities. In the fall of the 2000, the unit confidently broke away from the water and made landings on waves over a meter high (3 points).
The test results of the prototype confirmed the performance of the technical solutions incorporated in “Oriole”. Possessing good stability in the entire range of flight altitudes, including the 5-10 m, where the ground has almost no effect on the aerodynamics of the car, the EL-7 turned out to be easy to drive and forgive even gross errors in piloting.
During the tests, it was possible to work out the technique of piloting when maneuvering for the course, speed and altitude in flight both with the use of inflation and on-screen mode. Tested "airplane" flight modes.
Turns near the ground were made with a heel to 15╟ at altitudes ranging from three meters to an exit from the range of the screen effect (more than 10 m) with a heel to 30-50╟. Traction power plant with engines of BMW S38 enough to continue the screen flight in the event of a single engine failure. When moving near the interface between the two media, the aerodynamic quality of the screen of the EL-7 “Oriole” reached 25, which is more than twice the equivalent parameter of aircraft of this class.
In turn, this significantly increases the range when flying at low altitudes with the same take-off weight and fuel capacity. The average fuel consumption when flying at a speed of 150-180 km / h on a route with a variable profile and maneuvering at the rate and height did not exceed 25-35 liter AI-95 gasoline on 100 km of track with 3700 kg and 8 passengers. On the "airplane" mode, the flow reached 75-90 l.
Flying at heights of up to three meters, the EL-7 screener is certified in the River and Maritime Registers. When equipped with aircraft engines, equipment and flight-navigation systems, the flight characteristics of the device make it possible to certify it according to the aviation register, including aircraft flight modes. In this case, the flywheel will have flight data at the level of aircraft of a similar dimension. It will retain the ability to be operated from unprepared ground areas, ice, deep snow, water, including wetland.
Ekranolet is highly ecological - when basing it practically does not break the upper layer of soil and grass cover, does not touch water in the process of movement and leaves no wave, and is comparable in noise and toxicity to a car. The lack of pitching and bumping due to the temperature uniformity of the underlying surface and the absence of vertical gusts of wind, low noise levels in the cockpit and on the ground, good visibility make the flight comfortable and enjoyable.
Currently, employees of KOMETEP CJSC, Verkhne-Lensky River Shipping Company and other organizations are united in CJSC TREK Research and Production Complex. The company has already begun the mass production of X-EUMOL-Orion EK-14-type local Oriol type aircraft and modernized test results of the predecessor. At the same time preparing the production of WV EC-12, designed for 25 passengers.
These safe, highly economical and environmentally friendly amphibious vehicles capable of moving at altitudes from 0,2 to 3 m at speeds up to 210 km / h with a range of up to 1500 km are designed for year-round operation with high economic effect on rivers and ponds, including those covered ice and snow over wetlands. High seaworthiness (3-4 points) will make them indispensable on coastal shipping lines.
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