Author Topic: Tupolev 2000 SST  (Read 126 times)

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Offline McColm

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Tupolev 2000 SST
« on: January 29, 2021, 02:13:54 pm »
 The Russian's had similar ideas as the Americans in building a Supersonic Transport aircraft,  rather than designing something of their own they employed spies to steal the blue prints from Boeing and Lockheed,  then adapt them into wind tunnel models.
 The adding of canards and the redesign of the engine air intakes gave the Russians an early advantage,  basically an enlarged Tu-144 with swing wings.
The Russians had the Mig-25 and knew that they could achieve Mach 3 at high level but keeping the speed for 40-60 minutes would reduce the cabin capacity from 250 down to 175 passengers. Then the materials to build such a machine.
 The Russians had the advantage of being able to fly their SST over land and talks with China for a launch customer were hopeful. Cuba would be next with Malaysia and Australia. Talks were also being held with middle eastern countries and South America.
 Unlike the Americans the Tu-2000  used the same nose layout as the
 Tu-144  but had simplified the swing-wing and brought the dash speed down to Mach 2.85 at 65,000ft for a 45 minute cruise  or supercuise at 62,000ft flying at Mach 2.65. Stored in the rear tail was three large brake parachutes and an arrestor hook could also be deployed to slow the aircraft down.
The first prototype flew in March 1970, flying from Moscow to Siberia in  3 hours and the return flight in 2 hours 45 minutes .These two flights kept the wings in the swept position. Further flights followed without any mishaps. The Russians by then had got hold of fly-by-wire technology and and began using it in the Tu-2000A or Snow Eagle as it was reported as in the West.
 Compared to the Tu-144 the Tu-2000A was as if someone had hit the enlarged button on a photocopier machine by 150%. To offset the cost a military bomber and a reconnaissance platform made the rounds.
The Russian Navy saw the potential in a maritime strike version,  the Air Defence Force wanted a fighter version and the bomber would take on the B-52 and B-1A.
 The Russian state airline fitted out the Snow Eagle in business class,  a two-three-two arrangement but this was revised as a three and three with a wide aisle, the seats could recline giving more legroom. Individual TV screens and a media pack with picnic tables and cup holders. There was even a sleeper service with reclining beds with a reduced passenger load of 80 beds with an increased price to compensate.
The Russians selected routes that flew over water to avoid population areas and use the supersonic speeds efficiently.
 Sales were sluggish due to the noise lobbies in most western cities and the high speeds of landing such an aircraft,  however 20 Snow Eagles were built  for commercial use the first three being the prototypes and later used to train flight crews. Five were leased to Qantas,  seven to Cathay Pacific,  even Virgin Atlantic got in with the act with five ex- Aeroflot examples. Updates began in the late 1980's using Formula One technology and materials,  new efficient engines and carbon fibre were introduced.
 Passengers had to agree that the prices were expensive but the speed and the service made up for it. Even shaving off 30 minutes from the BAC Concorde run to New York  from London  and even upto an hour off London to South Africa.
The need for speed was battling against the Boeing 747 and the new wave of European airliners.
The fleet of 20 Snow Eagles were reduced to 15 by the early 1990s,  Virgin Atlantic became the leasing agent as they were refused the BAC Concorde as the British carrier. Five were put into longterm storage to reduce the flying hours,  the sleeper service was put on hold whilst the Snow Eagles underwent conversion to become freighters when needed.
Whilst Concorde was grounded  the Snow Eagles took their place and all seemed right with the world until the Concorde was finally retired. The slowing down of passengers should have meant the Snow Eagles would be part of aviation history but they were saved by Amazon and UPS as high speed freighters.
Virgin Atlantic  runs ' The Supersonic experience flight ' to certain parts of the world and a twice a day service to New York. Whilst Amazon uses theirs in a Combined capacity freight and passengers,  UPS is a pure freighter.
 With the break up of the USSR many of the military Snow Eagles were broken up or sold to private collectors. Three made it into museums with five being smuggled out and flown to NASA . Who is using them for flight trials and the next generation SST project.