Archive For The “Frigate Ecojet” Category

Ecojet update

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We had the chance to meet recently with the team in charge of the Frigate Ecojet project, the private Russian initiative to develop a middle of the market commercial aircraft concept.

This is not the first time we covered this interesting aircraft, whose most characteristic feature is its elliptic fuselage, so this was an opportunity to learn about the course of this programme.

The most eye-catching, if superficial, novelty is, perhaps, the name change, from “Ecojet” to “Freejet”. However, some more structural changes have also been added to the project during the last year.

The number of engines has been increased from two to four, a rather surprising change at a time when twin-engines seem to be pushing four-engined jets out of business in all categories where they are in direct competition.

Maximum take-off weight has also increased from 129.9t to 140.4t. and Operating Empty Weight (OEW) from 77.57t to 84.86t.

The design team expects to compensate some of the perceived disadvantages with some added positives, such as more thrust and lower noise thanks to a change in the shape and position of flaps. It also expects more internal functions to be driven by electricity.

When it comes to engines it is moving from the Russian-made PD-18R, PS-90A20, advanced turbofan engines to a choice of Russian and Western models: PD-14, PW1000G, and CFM LEAP, which would lead to commonality with other narrow body aircraft.

The Freejet programme managers are looking to build a network of industrial partners to move forward with the next stages of, admittedly challenging, project. So far they have partnered with three technology companies under the umbrella of the large Russian Rostec group as well as with Thyssen Krupp of Germany.

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Frigate Ecojet swims upstream

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In a world moving towards big twins, Russia’s Frigate has decided to move to quad power.   As Alexader Klimov, Frigate project leader, suggests, speed to market is the prime mover in the decision.  He says there are no engines of the size he wants to keep the aircraft a twin.  The thrust he requires ranges from 40K to 50K.

Here is a rendering of what the quad Ecojet might look like.

Intriguingly, Klimov’s vision of the aircraft closely resembles the purported 797.   The Ecojet is going to be a contender for the MoM.  Which means a high-risk profile for Frigate.  Currently, Airbus is cleaning up in this segment, without a real competitor.  Boeing is still mulling its next move in this segment, which it originally identified and then owned with the 757 and 767.

Perhaps it is time for Frigate to look east?  China wants to reduce dependence on western OEMs and is funding a number of projects with Russian origins.

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There is a MoM option that has nothing to do with Airbus or Boeing

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You may not have heard about the Frigate Ecojet before.  Based in Russia, and owned by Rosavia, the program is working on a design that looks disruptive.  For a start, this looks very odd for an airliner.  The Ecojet concept has its origins back in 1991, but has evolved since then.  The program was launched on the initiative of JSC “Rosaviaconsortium”, which  was founded only in 1997.

Indeed, the program was preceded by a number of scientific studies for constructive solutions for a wide fuselage. The results of these studies become the basis of the program, however, carried out independently of it.  The first official presentation of the Frigate Ecojet Program took place at the X International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS-2011.  The LLC Frigate Ecojet was established as the independent company for managing the Frigate Ecojet Program in the 2014.


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