MAKS 2009 – Testing Time  


The International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS 2009 came to end. Already on Sunday evening the aircraft started to leave Zhukovsky and most of the stands are dismantled by now. The show is over, but work goes on. Especially in the aerospace branch, this is a matter of foresight and long-term planning. Military aircraft that will become operational in 10 to 15 years or airliners that will start commercial services in a decade or so are being designed, developed and tested today. Although these early phases in the lifecycle of an air- or spacecraft pass almost unnoticed by the public or the end user, they are of the utmost importance to turn the final product into a technical and commercial success. Belgian aerospace is innovative in this field, as could be witnessed at MAKS 2009.



 Three complementary Belgian companies active in the earliest stages of the lifecycle of an air- of spacecraft participated in MAKS 2009. As described earlier, LMS International, a spinoff of the KULeuven, is a world leader in supplying software for testing structures. SAMTECH is a leading European supplier of software for testing designs, while NUMFLO is a pioneering provider of high quality software for fluid flow simulation.


SAMTECH was created as a spinoff of the University of Liège in 1968 and has its headquarters in Angleur. Worldwide, it employs 240 people in 11 countries. Apart from its Belgian headquarters, SAMTECH has branches in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and China. The company is specialised in the production of test software for use from the preliminary phases of design to the most advanced verification analyses, especially in the field of thermo-mechanical structures, rotor dynamics as well as metal and synthetic structures. Its software is not only used by Belgian companies like SABCA, SONACA and Techspace Aero, but also by many of the major aerospace companies in the world like Airbus, Alenia, Bombardier, EADS, Eurocopter, KAI, Mitsubishi, SAAB and SAFRAN. SAMTECH is the European leading provider of simulation software for Finite Element Analysis and Optimisation.

 With its presence at MAKS 2009, SAMTECH envisaged in the first place prospecting the Russian market. There are already some indirect contacts through Russian companies working for European customers of SAMTECH like Smartec, a joint venture between Snecma and NPO Saturn, and ECAR, the engineering centre of Airbus in Russia. “It is interesting for us to be at the International Aviation and Space Salon as we can contact most of our potential customers in Russia, the numerous design bureaus, within a very limited timeframe and in an environment well prepared by FLAG and Skywin”, declared Olivier Gramaccia, Sales Manager Europe of SAMTECH, at MAKS 2009.


 NUMFLO started in 1992 as a spinoff of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). It has its offices in Mons, where around 50 employees are working. It cooperates with research centres in France (ONERA – Office national d'études et recherches aérospatiales), Germany (DLR – Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt) and the Netherlands (NLR – Nationaal Lucht- en Ruimtevaart Laboratorium). NUMFLO is specialised in developing high quality software for aero- and hydrodynamic simulation during the design phase of aerospace, automotive or other industrial constructions. The company’s main market lies in France, but the USA too is good for around 10-12% of its business. More than 50% of NUMFLO’s activities are situated in the aerospace sector, mainly in the field of engine design. NUMFLO’s software is already being used by major motorists like among others General Electric, Microturbo, Motoren und Turbinen Union, Rolls-Royce, SNECMA and Turbomeca.

“TsAGI and TsIAM are Russian partners with whom we are looking forward to cooperate with. Our presence at MAKS 2009 offers the opportunity for first contacts with these companies”, announced Stéphan Aubin at Zhukovsky.

Black Raven

According to Alexandre Voronin, General Manager of the “Black Raven” project, this mock-up will soon be tested in the wind tunnels of TsAGI. The design will be at the base of three further projects: an engineless cosmoplane, a motorised aircraft and an unmanned aerial vehicle. The varying specifications and the somewhat clumsy construction of the mock-up suggest that it is an example of Russian humour, a cheerful note in the serious business that aerospace industry is. At least it is “another way of looking at the matter”, as the Raven (ворон - voron) said in Hans Christian Andersen’s “Snow Queen”, a fairy tale very popular with the Russians.


Although somewhat weird looking, the SR-10 (Cyrillic CP-10) is a much more serious prototype than the Black Raven. The SR-10 is intended as a light elementary and intermediate training aircraft for military and civil use. In the role of training aircraft, it will be equipped with a Saturn AL-55 gas-turbine engine. When used as a private aircraft, it will be powered by an Ivchenko AI-25 turbofan, already proven on the Let L-39 Albatros military trainer and the Yakovlev Yak-40 airliner. The prototype is equipped with an AI-25 engine, a zero-zero ejection seat and traditional avionics, which will be replace by a glass cockpit once the aircraft goes into production. The spars of the forward swept wings and of the vertical and horizontal tail planes are made in carbon fibre. Fuselage and wing ribs are in duralumin, while fuselage and wing skins are made in plastic. With a maximum take-off weight of 2,700 kg, the aircraft is designed to reach a maximum horizontal speed of 900 km/h and a ceiling of 6,000 metres. Cruise speed will be 560 km/h at 6,000 metres. The maiden flight of the SR-10 prototype is scheduled before year’s end.

The aircraft is developed by Design Bureau “Modern Aviation Technology” (Конструкторское Бюро "Современные Авиационные Технологии"), which has its offices in Moscow and its workshops at Bykovo Airport (Быково). It is the same company that also restored the Yak-30 Magnum and Yak-32 Mantis 1960s’ era aircraft to flying conditions.


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 © Jos Schoofs with thanks to FLAG (August 2009)


Last updated 28/08/09 08:13   Daniel Brackx