Hybrid engine designed by CIAM
  • Hybrid & electric plants to Generate 500 kw
  • UAVs & small aircraft to fly on new engine technology

By Brig Vijay Atray ( Retd )

Electric aircraft which flew at MAKS 2021

Zhukovsky, Moscow, 28 July 2021. Neither Corona clouds nor rains could deter the first electric flight in skies above MAKS 2021. On 25th July 2021 the Russian laboratory aircraft Yak-40LL, equipped with an electric motor, designed by Central Institute of Aviation Motors (CIAM) made its sky debut amidst great fanfare.  Its ground tests began in February in Novosibirsk at the Siberian Aeronautical Research Institute (also part of the National Research Center “Zhukovsky Institute”).

Mikhail Gordin

“The hybrid and electric power plants developed at CIAM are at the flight testing stage already. We will be glad to present them to the public at MAKS-2021. Our goal as the prime contractor is to get new knowledge as we create critical technologies, to test the feasibility of new technical solutions and advanced technologies “in hardware”. This knowledge and practical experience that we pass to the industry considerably reduce risks and costs at the design and development stage,”  said Mikhail Gordin, CIAM’s Director General, prior the show.

CIAM and UEC-Klimov (part of Rostec’s United Engine Corporation) are partners in the development of a HPP demonstrator with a maximum power of 500 kW. The new HPP featuring a serial design will be based on the VK-650V engine. Power plants of this power class can be used in light utilty helicopters, advanced unmanned (optionally also manned) aircraft with a takeoff weight of 2-8 t, commuter aircraft, flying taxis, business aviation, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft.

The HPP complementing the aircraft’s two turbojet engines consists of an electric motor with a power of 500 kW (680 h.p.), a power source supplying power to the motor and including a commercial turboshaft engine with an electric generator and a rechargeable battery unit. The unique feature of the Russian electric motor is the utilization of high-temperature superconductivity technologies and cryogenic cooling. The use of this technology in future aircraft will allow to reduce fuel consumption by 5-30% compared to traditional technical solutions.

Yuri Shmotin

UEC is a vertically-integrated company producing engines for military and civil aviation, commercial programs, equipment of various strengths for generating electric and heat energy, gas pumping systems and marine gas-turbine units. CIAM is working in cooperation with UEC. “UEC is sure that hybrid and electric power plant research is a promising area. Together with CIAM, we are working closely on an ambitious task: to create a power plant with performance equal to that of traditional engines, but with better environmental and fuel consumption parameters,” noted Yuri Shmotin, UEC’s General Designer.

Flight laboratories with hybrid and fully electric power plants were some of the main display items of the Central Institute of Aviation Motors (CIAM, a part of the National Research Center “Zhukovsky Institute”) at the show. The aircraft was presented at the joint exhibition of the National Research Center “Zhukovsky Institute” organizations.

The use of high-efficient low-noise hybrid (HPP) and electric (EPP) power plants is aimed at improving economic and environmental aircraft performance. Besides that, it will also allow to implement principally new aircraft architectures (such as vertical or ultrashort takeoff and landing). The latter will contribute to the evolvement of new qualities and transportation, economic and environmental performance enhancement.

Managing Editor Brig. VK Atray with CIAM Spokesperson at MAKS 2021

CIAM was among the first ones in Russia to conduct comprehensive research for the evaluation of advantages of EPP and HPP use at aircraft. The Institute’s experts gained an extensive experience in the evaluation of efficiency of such power plants for various aircraft, mathematical model development, the creation of HPP and EPP technology demonstrators, and their testing.

During MAKS 2021 Central Institute of Aviation Motors ( CIAM ) exhibited a Hybrid  Power Plant ( HPP ) which produces electricity which in turn propels the engine of an aircraft. The Institute has been in existence for the last 90 years & has been creating critical technologies that become the basis for aerospace industries for designing aero engines& assist them in speeding up their trials & mass production. CIAM is the State Research Centre of the Russian Federation.

An aircraft engine is an extremely complex technical device. It is designed much in advance of the aircraft & contains scientific & engineering solutions which are unique product of the inventor’s thought & vision, it is cutting – edge technology that defines engine competitiveness, its constant transformations between generations, compliance with international requirements and its market demand.

In keeping with the above ethos CIAM developed a small size engine for UAVs & small aircrafts . It is component part of a HPP based on a turbo – charged twin rotor rotary engine, a high efficient motor generator & a power controller providing reliable control of the reversible electric machine. To implement a serial hybrid power plant , the power unit is supplemented by the electric motors of the propulsion  drive ,for a parallel one – by a gear box.

HPP technology demonstrator featuring high temperature super conductivity technologies was developed within the frame work of RDT&E – the research wing of CIAM. It includes a traditional gas turbine engine, an electric generator, rechargeable batteries & a superconducting electric motor It is learnt that large number of organizations took part in the project ,  including Moscow Aviation Institute, Siberian Aeronautical Research Institute ,Ufa State Aviation Technical University ,Institute of Electro -physics & Electric Power Industry etc. The demonstrator was finalized in 2020 & its comprehensive testing was carried out ,the result of which allowed to commence flight testing of a flight laboratory based on the YAK -40 aircraft. In 2021 , the HPP demonstrator with HTSC electric motor was installed on the flight laboratory & its testing was carried out.

The visitors of MAKS-2021 saw the Yak-40LL flight laboratory, an aircraft equipped with a hybrid power plant developed by CIAM. Its first ground testing was carried out in February this year . A fully electric power plant developed by CIAM for the ultralight manned Sigma-4 aircraft will be presented to wide audience for the first time. The Sigma-4 aircraft is intended for pilots’ training, tourist and training flights, aerial photography, and other aerial services. It was equipped with an electric motor with a maximum power of 80 kW (109 h.p.). A rechargeable battery unit consisting of lithium-ion cells supplies power to the motor.

Some other showpieces presented by the Institute will continue the topic of electric technologies in aero engines. For instance, a EU-RPD350Т power unit demonstrator based on a turbocharged twin-rotor rotary engine with an electric generator. It is designed for use as part of an HPP for vertical takeoff and landing aircraft.

A concept of the “Silhouette” complex project, aimed at development of HTSC and cryogenic fuel use in aviation, was also presented at MAKS-2021. CIAM slates its implementation commencement for 2022. As part of cooperation with the Advanced Research Foundation, it is planned to create a technology demonstrator of a fully superconductive HPP with a power of 2 MW using the experience gained during the 500 kW HPP development.

The unique aircraft laboratory for ultra-short take-off and landing TVS-2MS, capable of taking off from a helipad, is being created according to the project of the FPI “Partizan” at the Chaplygin Siberian Aviation Research Institute. “The terms of reference stipulates that the aircraft demonstrator must take off from the site, which is normally designed for the Mi-8 helicopter – this is 50 by 30 m, taking into account the restrictions on the edges, that is, there may be a forest or other obstacles at the borders,” said the head of the project FPI group Yan Chibisov. The main idea of ​​providing ultra-short take-off and landing is the use of active blowing of the wing by a distributed propeller-driven group, which is a series of electric motors.

Technology demonstrators’ development is being carried out by CIAM as the prime research contractor, by request from the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation and in extensive cooperation with Russian enterprises. It is part of the “Electric Aircraft” complex research project coordinated by the National Research Center “Zhukovsky Institute”. The flight tests will continue for some time more post MAKS 2021.