Re: Soviet Aircraft

From:         kls@ohare.Chicago.COM (Karl Swartz)
Organization: Chicago Software Works
Date:         08 Apr 93 15:38:06 PDT
References:   1 2 3
Followups:    1 2
Next article
View raw article
  or MIME structure

Stefano Pagiola writes:
>> That's an Ilyushin Il-62, the Soviet version of the Vickers VC-10
>> [lots more deleted]

>Do you (or anybody) have any evidence to back this claim?  I am  
>continually hearing that such and such Soviet airliner is a `copy' of  
>that or the other Western airliner

You're reading more into the words than was intended, though given the
common assumptions to which you allude that isn't entirely unreasonable.
Still, had I said that a DC-8 was Douglas' version of the 707 or that
the L-1011 was Lockheed's version of the DC-10, would you have reacted
the same way?  I doubt it.

> Is the Boeing 727 a `copy' of the British Trident?  Is the Boeing
> 767 a `copy' of the Airbus A300?  Are the DC-8 and CV-880/990
> `copies' of the 707?

There does appear to be some evidence that the 727 was significantly
influenced by the Trident, though I doubt many would go so far as to
claim that Boeing copied the Trident.  And the 767 varies significantly 
in a number of regards from the A300, fuselage width perhaps being one
of the most dramatic differenes between the basic designs.  The DC-8
and 707 seem more logical extrapolatons of then-contemporary designs
in the industry, tied with similar requirements.

That last sentence probably contains the keys.  A while ago, someone,
Robert Dorsett if I'm not mistaken, noted that aircraft design has
become almost a cookbook approach -- the problems are sufficiently
well understood that two independent teams working on a common target
will produce remarkably similar designs.  The second point is that
manufacturers are often working on the same set of requirements from
the same set of airlines.  This latter point is perhaps nowhere
clearer than in the DC-10 and L-1011.

In the case of the various Soviet aircraft which bear remarkable
similarity at a superficial level, do these rules still apply?  While
the Soviets had (and the CIS countries still have, a fact worth noting
and not forgetting) some very talented aircraft designers, it is not
clear that they were working from the same technological base.  In
particular, similar or even identical engine choices (e.g. DC-10 and
L-1011 again, or 707 and DC-8) have pushed designs closer together,
whereas my impression has been that engine technology was where the
Soviets were furthest behind the West, with the possible exception of
avionics, which until recently hasn't had that dramatic an influence
on airframe design.  (Based on some sources even A320 may not be much
of a departure from the norm in this regard.)

As far as requirements, it seems to me that the Soviets were working
from a rather different set in most cases, certainly from a different
set of customers.  Economical North Atlantic operations has not had
nearly the influence for the Soviets that it has with the West, and
I'd suspect that the same goes for comfort.

Is it still reasonable to explain the Il-62 and VC-10 as being similar
simply because of common design rules and requirements, if they are in
fact that similar?  (Buran and the U.S. Space Shuttle are remarkably
similar in appearance but seem to be just as remarkably *different* in
detail.)  I don't know, though it doesn't seem obvious to me.  Even
less so for the Tu-144 and Concorde, whereas the Tu-154 seems signifi-
cantly more divergent from the 727 and Trident.  (Perhaps notably, the
Tu-154 was a much later development, whereas the others were nearly

None of which answers your real question.  No, I don't have any hard
evidence, though I have vague recollections that there was a large
amount of copying documented in at least one case, probably the Tu-144.

Can anyone else cite anything more concrete, pro or con, on this

Karl Swartz	|INet		
1-415/854-3409	|UUCP	uunet!decwrl!ditka!kls
		|Snail	2144 Sand Hill Rd., Menlo Park CA 94025, USA
 Send sci.aeronautics.airliners submissions to