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Westerner's perception of Russian Aircraft
PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2016 13:40 Reply with quote
voronezh
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I was talking to someone about the plane on his holiday and happened to mention that the Tupolev Tu-104 was the first successful commercial airliner. This seemed to amuse him. In the West people know very little about Soviet aviation and many think flying on a Soviet airliner would be a risk. The perception is of poorly maintained, old and low quality aeroplanes that are damaged by the social system they were created in. The powers in the West are always offering themselves as a superior system to any ideology offered by the East and this extends to aircraft, mainly because they benefit financially from this arrangement. The implication is we would be worse off under any kind of socialist/communist system. When you look at Soviet aviation of the 20th century it is full of brilliant designers and their aircraft: Ilyushin, Tupolev, MiG, Sukhoi, Yakovlev are just a few. The powers in the West are reluctant to showcase the brilliance created by socialism as opposed to private business ventures. There were of course many great Western aircraft in the form of Boeing, Airbus, McDonnell Douglas etc. but many Westerners do not see aircraft by Ilyushin (for example) as being as good. Russian aircraft are often designed with different priorities like performance in severe weather and are often durable ultilitarian designs. This durability means that Soviet aircraft are often in service much longer than their Western equivalents although aircraft like the Boeing 737 and MD-11 also share this characteristic. When I played the WWII simulation IL-2 Sturmovik I came across the opinion that the Russian aircraft like the Yak 1 were inferior fighters whereas I found they absorbed lots of damage, were fast (an invaluable characteristic for a fighter) and had good firepower. But because they didn't have a reputation like the Spitfire or Bf-109 and were less automated people thought they were no good. Others also thought that as the developer of IL-2 were Russians that they had enhanced their fighters unrealistically. One of the main fears of Soviet commercial aircraft for those unfamiliar with Russia is their safety record. It is perhaps an unusual fear as Russia was isolated and therefore only people inside the Iron Curtain knew the accident rate. Apart from rare design flaws the aircraft were not the main cause of poor safety. It was more to do with the severe climate, corruption within the aircraft industry or lack of state finance that led to higher accident rates. Now with the end of the USSR the glory days of Ilyushin and Tupolev are over. It is sad that these companies are no longer what they once were and that Westerners have a fear/irrational dislike for them.
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Aviation and Nations
PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 16:40 Reply with quote
WalterLeo
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Hi:

Aviation by its founders was conceived as an enterprise of entire humanity. The political colours came in via aviations use for war. Business and the colour of money was a consequence of aviations advance as mass transport.
Both the West and the East used their aviation as "proof of dominance of its political creed". The consequences of all that we see up today.
So statistics are published by political or business interest. Corrected to the relevant numbers the hull losses of first and second generation of jet airliners are equal or better for the Soviet designs (Tu-104, Tu-134, Tu-154 and IL 62). What blurrs that picture is the fact that western designs like the B 737 still are "active" while the Soviet design were early "frozen" and not thought to span various generations (B 737 100 200 300 400 ....NG...).
The better safety record of the actual versions benefits the total statistics of these airplanes.
Nevertheless the aviation industries in all countries benefited from the bad experiences of others: eg. Tupolev and Boeing from De Havilands problems with the Comets cabin structure, Sud Aviacion got the entire cockpit of the Comet for its Caravelle, Douglas and Tuplov learned a lot from the BAC 111 deep stall problems and so on.
Design flaws occured in all designs both East and West and correcting them was after loosing lives of passengers and pilots. And there were problems which were seen during flighttesting (the "grab" in the Tu-104, the baggage doors of the DC-10) but the concerns were brushed away by time limits or financial concerns.
The Sowjet designs were pieces of aeronautical engineering perfectly apt for the service in a vast and sparsly inhibited country extending from the Arctic to tropical deserts and lacking radionavigation facilities in many places.
As long as the USSR existed and was working its aviation was also working, when it fell down also its aviation did fall into a deplorable state.

Kind regards

Walter

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Aviation and Cosmunautics
PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2016 15:52 Reply with quote
WalterLeo
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Talking about Sowjet aviation one has to talk about cosmonautics also, as this was the most noble achievment of the USSR and the designer Sergei Pavlovich Korolev. To his credit not only counts the Sputnik and Vostok but also the Sojus rocket and the Sojus capsula which by now are the only means of transport for humans to the International Space station.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Korolev

Kind regards

Walter

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2016 00:52 Reply with quote
ce_zeta
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Interesting thread.

Common sense is the less common of the senses.

First of all...There weren't Russian aircrafts because Russian isn't a synonym for Soviet. There were a lot of effort from other parts of the Union. Antonov is now Ukrainian, also Motorsich, some factories were outside SFSR of Russia (now Russian Federation). For us, westeners this can be a little mistake but not for a former Soviet, and also explain a lot about the evolution of the former Soviet aviation since 1991.

Engineering hasn't ideology. Planes, weapons, machines also haven't ideology. The ideology dictates the requirements in some cases.

I suppose that after the dissolution of the USSR, propaganda, fear and lack of communication stablished a myth about the Soviet aviation. The case of the Tu-144 is a proof of that. The race for the first supersonic airliner was a big challenge also contributes to the myth. Although Tupolev design fly first. This design had tons of flaws and was a dead-end. Soviet politicians wanted a success but they committed an historical mistake (as usual when politician enter in engineering).

As Walter wrote, after the end of the USSR, the chaos in the former Soviet space increased the accident ratio of the former soviet aviation due to the poor maintenance, corruption, the deep economical crisis and also the mental health of the aviation workers (I guess that the dissolution of your country, the economical crisis and the collapse of the social and economic structure of an entire empire should affect mental health). In this time (nineties), propagandist started to spread some trash in order to bury the former Soviet Aviation industry saying that the Safety record of the Soviet airliners is explained because the goverment hide the accidents (When in the other side, Westeners obtained a free pass to search in the former Soviet records).

Also lack of performance and modern engine technology was a heavy load when former Soviet companies started to compete in the new market. So again, this problems were viewed by westerns as a proof of Soviet delay in aeronautical technology.

Soviet airliners had very different requirements, oil consumption wasn't a priority in a Petroleum State. Also in a Communist State, a reduced
crew wasn't a priority. Also other "proof". It's only a evidence about different requierements between each aviation industry,

Some Westernes (the majority) saw the world by his prism....They analize Soviet airliners by western standards, and they dont understand that Soviet airliners were designed by a very different standards and requirements.

And sadly in the new century, there still some people writing garbage about soviet and now Russian (they still think that Russia is communist!) aviation.

All companies have strengths and weaknesses. Soviet industry and now Russia, have a weakness microchip and engine (gas turbines) industry, but also have strengths like Guided missiles, space rockets and radars.

There are a great book about Soviet cosmonautics called 'Rockets and People' by Engineer Boris Chertok. Here to download Chetok was a specialist in Automation and Control, field where Soviets are more advanced than his western counterparts.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2016 17:08 Reply with quote
voronezh
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Aviation as "proof of dominance of its political creed". I never thought of it in this way. It is true that Soviet designs tend to follow a different path in that their development (after manufacture) is quite short although they may be used for many years, unlike the 737 which has been continually developed as well as being used. I didn't know that the accident rate increased after the end of Communism. So much for Capitalism then. In the West people generally think accidents were not reported in the Communist era but I never thought the Russian government would share such a view or use it to explain the accident rate in the 90s. ce_zeta makes a valid point about fuel consumption and crew sizes. Business costs and profit were not such a priority under Communism. Fuel consumption tended to be a bit higher due to military based designs and engines, as well as heavier engines and aircraft required for operation in Arctic conditions. Soviet designs tend to be very efficient aerodynamically (as I keep finding out with the Tu-134 overstressing) which would compensate a little for their higher consumption engines. I suppose the lack of desire for minimum fuel consumption stemmed from cheap kerosine and Communism's lack of profit motivation as well as the fact that any aircraft has higher consumption in Arctic conditions. I have quite an admiration for Russian technology and find all those free planes in FSX different but not inferior.
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A question of age
PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2016 18:10 Reply with quote
WalterLeo
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Hi freinds:

As I was born in 1943 I lived the era of cold war at the western side and we were fed all the time by two messages:
Soviet technology is backward and unsafe AND:
A terrible thread for the political survivel of the West.
As this two statements were contradictory nobody had to question, if he did he was called an easter-marcher.This was a protest movement inspired by world known philosophers as Bertrand Russell protesting at Easter against the nuklear arms-race.

That aging aircrafts tend to have increasing safety probelms one sees also in poor countries operating ageing Western airplanes, lack of funds beeing the main reason.

But said that airplanes like the IL-62M show even at "age" a safety record far better than e.g. a B-707 or a DC-8. The good record of the IL-62 is also due to the excellent work of Cuban pilots and mechanics.

I have written in my Brief Flight Manual for the PT-IL-62M:

Often “western experts” declared the Russian built airliners as unsafe by design, operation, training or behaviour of its crews. But looking at the sheer numbers of hull losses all IL 62 had 5, 1 % losses of all airplanes produced which is a third of the B-707 (16, 8%) and of the DC-8 (14, 9%) families. It’s the same as for the similar Vickers VC-10 and a third higher as for the B-747 family (3, 8%). Only the much younger designs of e.g. B 767 have a clearly lower rate of hull losses (1, 3%). In terms of fatalities the IL 62 family was safer than contemporary western airplanes.
Said this one must accept that at the beginning of its service life a fatal design flaw of hot air ducts in the rear of the airplane led to the crash of the IL 62 of INTERFLUG DM-SEA near Berlin in which all 156 people on board perished constituting the worst air-disaster on German soil up to now. This was not discussed in public but the design was rectified accordingly.
Later on as well with the IL 62 as with the IL 62M, although having different engines, problems with the roller bearings of the engines led to two fatal accidents of LOT airplanes (SP-LAA an IL 62, SP-LBG an IL 62M). As consequence of the second crash stricter rules for operation and maintenance came out. Between 4th of September 1989 and 23st of July 2009 no fatal crash of IL 62 s happened and no accident was attributed to technical problems. On 20 th April 2008 on board CU-1283 Engine #2 suffered an un-contained failure during initial climb at 25,000 ft. Rear fuselage sustained debris damage resulting in loss of cabin pressure and compromised fuel supply to engine #1 which was shut down. The aircraft made a safe landing at the airport of departure (Santo-Domingo) and later flew back to Havana but was deemed uneconomic to return to service.


One thing seems was a drawback of Soviet designs: The engines had to be treated with a very soft hand like flying at much lower speeds as possible by design. This say people who worked with INTERFLUG. Practices like using engines up to planed engine life (and beyond!) without exhaustive electronic vibration checks could lead to catastrophic engine failures as happed with the two LOT IL-62s.

Kind regards

Walter

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Navigation Systems and Procedures
PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 14:45 Reply with quote
WalterLeo
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There was a constant saying in the West, that soviet avionics were inferior and the crews had therefore more members than in Western airplanes. In the Tu-104 there were 5 : Captain, F.O., F.I. Navigator and Radiooperator. The last one disappeared with the Tu-124, as its radios were solid state and did not needed manual tuning any more and morse signals were not used any more. So for various airplanes the navigator was still on board even in the Tu-154M. But that was a consequence of flying over wide unhabited terrain without radionavigation facilities. Contrary to Western belief the navigation equipment they used were state of the art: Doppler Radar, an area navigation capability built into the RSBN short range navigation systems, compass systems capable of polar navigation and great circle navigation and an automatic (analog) astro navigation computer.

Kind regards

Walter

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Westerner's perception of Russian Aircraft
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