A major Russian aeronautical research agency has launched preliminary design work for a quiet supersonic business jet that could fly over populated areas.
The Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) will develop the preliminary design in partnership with several Russian companies, including aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi and engine maker NPO Saturn, TsAGI says.
An official conceptual image of the aircraft shows it with a long, pointed nose and as many as four engines mounted on top of the aft fuselage. The aircraft also features twin vertical tails and long, thin wings.
The goal of the project is to establish Russia's aeronautics industry as a technology leader in a potential new market for business aviation, TsAGI says.
Sergei Lyapunov, deputy director general of TsAGI, says the broad spectrum of industry and research organisations involved in the project is unprecedented in Russian aeronautics.
TsAGI says a preliminary assessment suggests the supersonic aircraft should generate the same noise level as future subsonic aircraft for the civil market. In addition to completing the design, the research team will also assess the "promising domestic engines" that could power the new aircraft.
The concept of a Russian supersonic business jet has been on the drawing board for decades. In the early 1990s, Sukhoi partnered Gulfstream to develop a design of the S-21. Sukhoi continues to list a "supersonic business jet" on its website as an ongoing project, without elaborating further. Tupolev has also proposed the Tu-444 supersonic business jet, advertising 4h flight times between Moscow and New York.