04 Sep 2014

Amphibious aircraft for the “fifth ocean”


Over the course of the past century, Russian advances in hydroaviation have let to world-famous aircraft whose superiority has been confirmed by dozens of world records. These aircraft have secured Russia’s place as the world leader in hydroplanes. Today, Russia is developing modern amphibious aircraft, with Rostec Corporation enterprises supplying critical equipment to this end.

Hydroaviation technology began in the early nineteenth century. Over the course of several decades, seaplanes transformed from plywood floating planes into more reliable aircraft.

Russia’s innovations in hydroaviation during the twentieth century began with the initiatives of the Naval General Staff. Sailors worked hard to prepare pilots to operate the vehicles and also tried to acquire new seaplanes and eventually organize their construction in Russia. As a result of this shift toward aviation, Russians have sometimes called the sky the “fifth ocean,” with the Russian Air Force described in maritime terms such as the “navigator” and “helm” of the skies.

The great aviator and aircraft designer Igor Sikorsky is considered the founder of Russian hydroaviation. Sikorsky was the first person in the world to lift into the air the twin-engine airplane “Russian Vityaz” and the four-engine “Ilya Muromets”, which were initially floating on the water.

In 1913, Dmitry Grigorovich designed the world’s first seaplane in Russia. The flying boat, called the M-1, even participated in World War I.

The designer and aviation historian Vadim Shavrov also made a significant contribution to the development of hydroaviation, acquiring great fame when he designed the Sh-2, the first mass-produced Soviet amphibious aircraft, which operated through the mid-1960s.

Georgy Beriev, another outstanding Soviet designer, also played a major role in the development of hydroaviation. His first wooden seaplane, the MBR-2, first took to the air in May 1932. As head of the Central Design Bureau for Maritime Aircraft, Beriev oversaw the design of the Be-6 twin-engine flying boat; the Be-8; and the 35-ton Be-12 “flying taxi” amphibious aircraft, which set 42 world records. In 1983, Beriev’s Bureau developed the famous A-40 Albatross jet amphibious aircraft, which set 148 world records. It also served as the basis for the design of the Be-200, one of the most unusual and versatile aircraft.

The Be-200 amphibious aircraft is primarily designed to extinguish forest fires from the air but can also be modified for passenger and cargo transportation, as well as medical and search and rescue operations. The aircraft, which can take off from and land on water, is extremely unique.

Today, the Beriev Aircraft Company is developing massive amphibious aircrafts of the future with takeoff weight in excess of 1,000 tons. Among them is the Be-2500 Neptune, the largest amphibious aircraft ever designed.

Such aircraft will be able to transport goods and passengers over long distances at altitudes and speeds typical of traditional aircraft but using the existing transportation infrastructure of seaports.

The Be-2500 can also be used to deliver rapid-response units, conduct rescue operations at sea, and aid mining operations on the sea shelf and in archipelagos. Additionally, the Be-2500 is expected to be an ideal platform for delivering spacecraft into the upper atmosphere from the Earth’s equatorial zone.

A model of the gigantic Be-2500 has already been presented at the international exhibition Gidroaviasalon in Gelendzhik. This year, the KRET exhibit will feature a demonstration model of the Be-200 cockpit developed by the research institute Aircraft Equipment. KRET is responsible for creating the aircraft’s avionics, which will feature an integrated system developed by Aircraft Equipment, a subsidiary of KRET.

From 2014 to the end of 2015, the holding company Aircraft Equipment will be designing new equipment and technology for the Be-200 amphibious aircraft valued at about 43 million rubles. The holding company has developed the ERRD-436 electronic regulator unit for the D-436TP turbojet engine. This unit interacts with the engine’s digital management system through FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control System) and is designed to maintain the aircraft’s optimum performance with minimal fuel consumption. The cost of the ERRD-436 order will amount to more than 8 million rubles.

Additionally, the Be-200 will be outfitted with PVF-11-1 plugs, developed by the Ufa Research and Production Enterprise Molniya, to ignite the fuel-air mixture in the D-436TP combustion chambers. The Be-200 will also have BKP-2-2-210 oxygen supply blocks; BKO-5K oxygen dispersion blocks, which allow the crew to use oxygen masks even during long flights; and MKP-1T oxygen masks designed for passengers, featuring a low weight and capable of withstanding a large number of pressurization cycles. The total cost of this equipment will amount to around 25 million rubles.

This year’s International Exhibition and Scientific Conference Gidroaviasalon will take place September 4-7 on the territory of the Beriev Aircraft Company test base and the Gelendzhik airport.

Based on material from the KRET website