The stereotype of a test pilot is a bold, sometimes desperately brave, confident person with instant reflexes and a strong will. All this is true, but in recent years, the volume of professional requirements for a military test pilot has grown significantly. He must deeply understand the essence and tendencies of the development of a war in the air, which today is not fought by individual planes, but by complex heterogeneous combat complexes. A modern fighter is a multifunctional aircraft, which must be tested in all the very numerous modes of combat use. In recent years, requirements for the “man-machine” interface have sharply increased, in the development of which the test pilot has a decisive role. Only a large team of specialists of various specialties, which is led by a competent and purposeful leader, can carry out full-fledged tests of a combat aviation complex. Among other things, he must be deeply versed in the economic aspects of flight tests, which have become one of the most expensive stages in the creation of aircraft. If you combine all of the above, you can form the image of a modern tester, which today is fully consistent with the Director General of the M. Gromov Flight Research Institute Hero of Russia Pavel Vlasov. In an interview with the VPK weekly, he sums up the results of flight tests of MiG-29K / KUB ship fighters, which serve in the Indian Navy and have been in service with the naval forces since December 2013 aviation Russian Navy. The successful conduct of these complex tests has returned Russia to the number of countries that mass-produce deck fighters. Another result of this great work is the creation of a reliable foundation for the further development of the MiG RSK, which has proved its ability to design popular combat aircraft. The completion of the tests allowed Pavel Vlasov to concentrate on the leadership of the M. Gromov LII, which he has been leading since 2010, and to leave the post of deputy general director of MiG RSK for flight tests - head of the A. V. Fedotov Flight Test Center .
- Pavel Nikolaevich, it is known that flying from the deck of an aircraft carrier is much more difficult than from a land aerodrome. This is doubly true for test flights. Which ones have become the most difficult? What flight do you remember the most?
- The most difficult thing is the start of flights from the deck and the entire subsequent ship testing cycle. Perhaps this was more difficult work than the first take-off of the MiG-29KUB and MiG-29K aircraft.
If we talk about personal impressions, then I remember the first flight of a two-seater car, which took place in difficult weather conditions, the first rise of a single-seater and, of course, the first landing on the deck. This is probably the most psychologically tense moment, although it is necessary to work there just without emotion, which is basically what happened.
As for the entire test program, the main problem is that we had much less opportunity to prepare for flight from the deck. In particular, we could not train on the ground complex NITKA.
- How to prepare for flying without a thread?
- We have developed a program for training flight crews using new training stands. I remember the stands on which we in 90-ies practiced take-off and landing: the axial line, the conventional rectangular - the deck and the imitation of the optical landing system "Luna". The effectiveness of modern stands, which the RSK MiG has, is higher by an order of magnitude due to the accuracy of visualization and mathematical models of the aircraft and the ship.
At the next stage of the program, we imitated ship landing on a conventional runway, using a new landing indication on board, designated the aiming point, placed observers with video equipment, which recorded the moment of touch, analyzed the actions of the pilots. Naturally, at the beginning the touches were scattered. But gradually, those of us who were already boarding, regained their skills, and the new testers of ship-based aircraft formed them. As a result, the deck of the test aircraft was successfully launched and completed safely.
- As far as I understand, among those who flew in 2009 – 2013 from the Kuznetsov and Vikramaditya decks were only two pilots with ship landing experience: you and Nikolay Diordits?
- "MiG" for a long time did not deal with the ship's theme. From the team of “90's deckers” - Toktar Aubakirov, Anatoly Kvochur, Roman Taskaev - to the 2000, I was left alone at the company. Therefore, Nikolai Diorditsa was invited to MiG. He is probably today the most experienced test-deck pilot in Russia who has mastered all types of domestic ship planes. He became an instructor in our team who knows everything about everything and is ready to share. Thus, by the beginning of work in 2009, we had two people with experience - Nikolai Fedorovich has more, I have significantly less.
- Judging by the fact that new testers joined the tests, the training system turned out to be effective, and the qualifications of the RAC “MiG” pilots were high.
- Indeed, in 2009, the head of the flight service of the RAC "MiG", the senior test pilot of the FACE named after AV Fedotov Mikhail Belyaev, was among the deck pilots. The three of us worked in 2009 on the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrying cruiser. In the summer of 2012, Mikhail Belyaev and Nikolai Diorditsa were the first to land on the Vikramaditya aircraft carrier. Michael, as the head of the flight crew, had to solve the very difficult task of connecting to flights from the deck of new pilots when testing at the Vikramaditya. The combination of training and organizing such difficult tests is a very delicate moment that I encountered in 2009, and Michael in 2013. The manager needs to find a balance: what should you do yourself as the chief pilot in charge of everything, and what and how should you trust your subordinates. It is especially difficult to solve such a problem, when the days of flights are read and you have no right to make mistakes. Mikhail Belyaev accurately and correctly defined the roles and stages of the inclusion of test pilots in the program.
In 2013, the program successfully entered Andrei Shishov, the Achtuba test pilot in the past, and Sergei Rybnikov, Mihovsky test pilot from Lukhovits. They did their job very accurately, neatly, I would say - beautiful. By the way, if you ask them what you remember most, they will probably say that this is the first take-off and the first landing at night.
A significant contribution to the flight tests of the ship MiG was made by military test pilots. In 2009, Oleg Spichka worked with us at Kuznetsov, who died in 2011 along with Alexander Kruzhalin on a test flight over the Astrakhan region. Bright, talented guys ... Oleg Spichka was the main patriot of the "MiG shipbuilders" who always believed that the plane would be in demand not only by India, but also by the naval aviation of the Russian Navy. It is today, when RSK MiG transfers the MiG-29K / KUB to the Russian military, and it happens. The key tasks of the test program at the test site and at the Vikramaditya were performed by the most experienced test pilot of GLITS, Oleg Mutovin. Dmitry Demenev, a young military test-pilot, also worked from the deck in 2013.
- Is there a difference, in terms of the pilot, between Kuznetsov and Vikramaditya?
- Of course have. In the configuration of add-ons, the dimensions of the landing deck, in the length of the zone of precise landing. On Kuznetsov there are four cables and 36 meters between them, on Vikramaditya there are three cables and, accordingly, 24 meters.
- And if there is no hook for the cable?
- The pilot must be ready for this. By default, you touch the deck for go-around. Accordingly, for a fraction of a second before touching the pull you bring to the maximum. If caught - then the full landing. If there is no hook - you gain height and go to the second round.
- At the end of last year, deliveries of MiG-29K / KUB to the Ministry of Defense of Russia began. In parallel, a new ground-based complex is being prepared for the training of naval aviation pilots. How necessary is it?
- The presence of such a complex is a prerequisite for the mass training of combatant pilots. The first time to survive the hold, the first time to take off from the springboard is stress in the full sense of the word. To him must be prepared. Stress increases the likelihood of erroneous actions. And they are fraught with dangerous consequences on the deck.
There are foreign videos of unsuccessful landings - the pilot shouts over the radio communication the head of the flights: “Traction, traction, traction,” and he does not react. The pilot made a mistake in entering laterally, he concentrated on correcting the situation and forgot about everything else ...
Therefore, it is necessary to study in safer conditions, when it is possible to give the pilot the opportunity to make mistakes, be aware and correct them himself. This is what a competent instructor does, complicating the task from flight to flight. In a ship, this technique is not always possible.
- In the area of your responsibility were not only flights, but the whole process of their organization. Are there any specific ship difficulties here?
- As regards the organization of testing on a ship, this is not a comparable task. It is necessary to ensure scheduled flights in a short time, to coordinate the actions of a large number of subcontractors and the customer on ship tests, on aircraft and non-aviation systems of aircraft. Any problem should be fixed immediately, because time is running out. There is usually no reserve there in the North. It is not easy to solve transportation problems.
Difficulties are also associated with a huge number of interacting organizations, whose plans do not always coincide. Not the last place is the problem of weather conditions. The North Seas were not always supportive of us ...
Managing flights at the airport and on the deck is, as they say in Odessa, two big differences. Here everything is decided not by seconds, but by fractions of seconds, when you need to give the command to the pilot to "sit down" or "leave." And for many members of the test team from Zhukovsky and Lukhovits this task was new.
All organizational work fell on the shoulders of First Deputy Head of PERSON Sergey Shalnev (in February 2014, Sergey Shalnev was appointed Deputy General Director of RAC MiG OJSC for flight tests - Head of the Flight Test Center named after A. Fedotov. - Ed.). He brilliantly coped with this task, and in many respects our success is the merit of him and the team, which he led.
- What are the features of the MiG-29K / KUB program in terms of flight tests?
- A long pause between the first works of the Mikoyan company on ship topics and the revival of the program in 2000-x was used quite effectively. As a result, a modern multi-purpose aircraft with a qualitatively new combat capabilities. Increased payload. Expanded nomenclature of weapons.
This, of course, led to an increase in mass. However, a set of new solutions, such as the Kruger flaps, a new flap design, a modern remote control system, made it possible to level negative factors and significantly improve piloting conditions for the pilot.
Improved performance. Improved interface "pilot - plane", which has become more friendly. Significantly expanded information support crew. Improving the accuracy of the navigation equipment has provided new capabilities, such as a satellite approach.
New solutions have facilitated the work at the stage of flight tests, ensured their rhythm.
- MiG-29K / KUB differs from its predecessors in its qualitatively new avionics. Was it easy to master?
- For me, the transition to a new board was a holiday. The great efforts of the specialists of the Mikoyan Engineering Center, the chief designers Nikolai Buntin and Ivan Kristinov managed to introduce ideas that had been worked out and accumulated for many years.
Piloting an aircraft with a new avionics is definitely easier. Together, a new man-machine interface has been created that optimizes the amount of information provided to the pilot. After all, her flight should be exactly as long as necessary, no less and no more. To solve an expanded number of tasks, it is necessary to flexibly form an information and control field, quickly changing it depending on the tactical situation and the means of destruction used. We devoted a lot of time to developing these algorithms and today we are satisfied with the result obtained.
As always, when creating a new technology, a huge number of ideas arise. On the one hand, they promise an increase in the efficiency of the pilot’s actions and the use of the aircraft, on the other hand, working out new solutions requires a lot of effort and time. When creating the MiG-29K / KUB, a very good balance was achieved between innovations, the level of development and the groundwork for the future.
- MiG-29KUB became the first serial fighter in the large family of MiG-29, which has equal combat capabilities with a single-seater. How much did it help with the tests and how important is it for the customer?
- Ship Sparka is extremely necessary. There is a key task that is very difficult to solve even without modern simulators and qualified instructors without welding. This is the first landing for a pilot. MiG-29KUB completely solves this problem.
I believe that double planes should be more. I will not hide, at the early stage of the program, it was the pilots who insisted that the Spark was universal and moreover could fly with one pilot. This was realized, and life showed the correctness of such a decision. I note one of its advantages - the possibility of flexible distribution of workload among crew members, depending on the tactical situation.
The creation of a two-seater aircraft with a high degree of unification with a single-seater is the undoubted advantage of the MiG-29K / KUB program.
Today, Mikhail Belyaev, Andrei Shishov, Sergei Rybnikov work in India, teaching the pilots of the Indian Navy to fly to the deck. 19 January 2014, the first of the Indian pilots carried out the first independent landing on the deck.