Awesome to catch up if you can get ahead
The engine for a promising front-line aviation complex (PAK FA), its development and capabilities, the progress of the project, the use of new technologies and materials - Yevgeny Marchukov, General Designer and Director of the Scientific and Technical Center A, told about all this in an exclusive interview I. Lyulki - branch of JSC NPO Saturn of the United Engine-Building Corporation.
- Yevgeny Yuvenalevich, over the years of transition to a new economic formation, Russia has lost its leading position in many high-tech areas, including in aircraft manufacturing, as well as in its most intellectual segment - engine building. Is the point of no return? Is it possible to catch up with competitors? If so, how do you think you should catch up?
- For two decades, domestic engine-building, if we use sports terminology, is almost a circle behind its foreign counterparts. Therefore, we will never become a leader if we try to catch up with world manufacturers of aircraft engines with simple voltages of all our strength, traditionally following the treadmill of scientific and technological progress. It is necessary to cut off, run diagonally and pull ahead. In sports, this is unacceptable, and in the technique has its own, special rules of the game.
- How to cut?
- To use new materials, achievements in other sectors of technical knowledge. There are sufficiently strong reasons for the fact that we can make not only a competitive aircraft engine for the PAK FA, but also aircraft engines of the next generation.
Now on all gas turbine engines the so-called Brighton cycle is implemented: heat supply at constant pressure. The possibilities of such an engine are reaching its limit, it has practically exhausted itself, as the piston engine has exhausted at one time. Of course, you can increase the efficiency by two to three percent, but in general this does not solve problems. The task is to increase the specific thrust by 50 – 60 percent.
In pure science, discoveries are made that can radically affect the development of technology. But the development of the technical systems themselves goes stepwise, incrementally. So the engine for the PAK FA, although in all respects it will surpass the engines already created, will nevertheless be made using the existing scientific and technical base. Of course, there will be new ceramic materials that can withstand very high temperatures. The high-pressure turbine will be able to work without cooling the blades, bearings without lubrication. The temperature at the entrance to the theater will exceed the combustion temperature of kerosene by 2300 degrees. This will be the limit of possibilities for increasing the parameters of a modern aircraft engine. The existing appearance of the engine will continue for another half to two decades. Much depends on how quickly the properties of materials will improve.
- This is a more distant prospect. Let's still talk about our time. What is today's engine for the PAK FA?
- Now for the PAK FA engine made with the symbol "product 117". He is at the stage of conducting preliminary tests - bench and flight tests, which pass successfully. Some elements are borrowed from the groundwork for creating the 117С engine for the Su-35 fighter, in particular the design and calculation methods, the processing technology of the most complex structural elements.
The “117C” engine is not an easy upgrade of the AL-31F, as it can sometimes be read in the press. He has two tons higher than the AL-31F. Get these two tons in the same dimensions is not easy. The engine is a new low-pressure compressor. Significantly upgraded high pressure compressor. New combustion chamber. New turbine. Almost all nodes are new. The engine at 80 percent consists of new parts.
And on the “117 product” for the first-stage PACK FA (Т-50), the thrust is even greater than that of the “117C”. In addition, it is a fundamentally new automatic control system (ACS) - fully digital, with full responsibility. For the first time it will be built on the Russian element base. The architecture of building the system, the algorithm for managing it is also Russian. We want the element base to be Russian, although we have a whole list of permits for using a foreign base. Such a domestic engine has not yet been. To solve this problem, the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation allocates funds. Conducted research work called "SAU promising products." A good team of designers of ACS has come together, there is a certain groundwork, and we have no doubt of success.
- What is this - the preliminary tests stage T-50, which you mentioned?
- The stage of preliminary tests is the most time-consuming period in the process of creating an aircraft engine both in time and in money. As new structural elements are used, something may break down. We have to redo something, re-experience. If necessary, adjust the working design documentation (WDD). And this is all time, money. Large consumption of expensive kerosene for flight tests, etc. Just at this stage on the final day of the MAKS-2011, the T-50 did not take off. The weather was rainy. Low clouds. Bad visibility. The plane stopped the run.
- So what happened?
- Surging. The aircraft engine is perhaps the most difficult product in engineering terms. The cost of a mistake is very high both in financial costs and in terms of ensuring the state’s defense. Therefore, at the slightest deviations from the standard modes of operation of the engine, the test pilot is obliged to stop taking off, which was done. Although before this, the T-50 carried out all scheduled flights without any problems. The analysis carried out by specialists revealed deviations in the operation of engine automation, which led to a surge. Inspections showed that the engine is not damaged. And indeed, in a day he was ready for the continuation of flight tests.
- What are the further procedures in the way of mass production of the new engine?
- After completion of the preliminary testing complex, the engine is presented for state tests. For them, a commission of military and civilian specialists is created. Engine members are assembled under the supervision of commission members. His tests are conducted. Then he understands, the commission examines him again, the conclusion is written. After all these works have been completed, the design documentation is adjusted if necessary and serial products are produced simultaneously. Although the individual elements of the design of the engine of the first stage for the PAK FA are already being manufactured, since their characteristics are fully confirmed on the stand modes. By the end of the year 2011 will be assessed the technical characteristics of flight modes. The existing cooperation between design enterprises (NPO Saturn) and the release of the “117 product” (Ufa Engine Industrial Association) has fully justified itself. We expect that by 2013, developers and production workers should go on to conduct state tests.
- The very name “engine for the PAK FA of the first stage” says that there must be a second stage engine. Is not it?
- It really is. Bookmark it done. The engine is done. For all the main characteristics, it will be superior to the “117 product”, in particular, it will have higher traction and less weight. The ratio of the mass of the engine to its burden is characterized by an important concept for engines - the specific gravity. I will not name the figure, I have no right. Let me just say that it will be much higher than that of the analogues created abroad, and the technical appearance of the motor will change significantly.
- What about a supersonic, unformed regime: some experts in the Russian aviation industry claim that it will be possible to ensure supersonic cruising flight on the engine of the first stage?
- Again, I find it difficult to comment. We'll see. The toughest competition in the world takes place in the high-tech industry sector. In this area, a potential competitor can be told a lot not only by specific parameters of this or that unit, system, node, or product as a whole, but only the interest of scientists and developers to this or that issue, only the ideology of building a system, general directions held in laboratories research. AT stories enough examples in this regard. And the most significant of them concerns the creation of a “superbomb” with enormous destructive properties, that is, atomic weapons in the prewar years and during the Second World War. Then the fact that scientists showed interest in one or another area of research was able to tell a lot to specialists. In the technosphere of our time, in conditions of ever-increasing competition between states, in fact, little has changed in this regard.
The level of tactical and technical characteristics of the engine of the second stage for the PAK-FA is raised unprecedentedly high. To develop such an engine means to solve a rather serious scientific, engineering and scientific and technical problem. She put the military-political leadership of the country. The engine should be no worse than the Americans. But this can be achieved only if I repeat, if you run diagonally. Since some time in the 90-ies new in the field of aircraft engine-building was not created.
- How do you assess the changes in the organizational structure of the domestic aircraft engine industry?
- At the beginning of 2000, there were heated discussions and even battles for the right to be the lead developer of the PAK FA engine. Now it is being created as part of the United Engine Corporation (UEC). The cooperation is formed not in the confrontation of potential leading executors, but in the context of centralized leadership by the JDC. It is right. Because the competition should be between suppliers of components, which allows to improve their quality. And the leading Russian integrator of a promising aircraft engine has a competitor outside the country - Rolls-Royce, General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and other grandees of the world engine building industry.
I support the elimination of competitive relations between Rybinsk "Saturn" and Moscow "Salyut". In the Salut Design Bureau there are people from the Scientific and Technical Center named after Lyulka, which is the Moscow branch of NPO Saturn. Work on the draft design of the engine of the second stage for the PAK FA, both design bureaus jointly conduct. Mikhail Kolotnikov, General Designer of the Salyut Design Office, is my friend and ally, who had worked for ten years at the Saturn Design Bureau.
Now in the aviation engine-building industry of Russia, a normal creative atmosphere is taking shape, the very synergistic effect that specialists at various aviation events had previously spoken about manifests itself. People stop shutting themselves apart and work openly, helping each other.
But one should not get involved in the restructuring transformations in the UEC. The main thing is the result, not the process of transformation for the sake of transformation. For example, a serial plant cannot lead a developer. The cooperation for the creation of the engine for the second stage PAK FA will be expanded. Add new KB, new plants. This is natural, since at various enterprises and design bureaus of the aviation engine-building there are innovations in the field of technologies, the best solutions in the development of various units and structural elements. These enterprises will join the cooperation. As part of the UEC, a program of creating competence centers has been launched: by casting, manufacturing blades, coating, various types of welding, etc. The principle is this: in which enterprise it is better and cheaper, that plant becomes such a center of competence. This will be one of the most important tools for improving the quality and, consequently, the competitiveness of products manufactured by the enterprise.
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