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Flight Test and Development base in Zhukovskiy

Flight Test and Development base in Zhukovskiy
The history of Tupolev Experimental Design Bureau’s (EDB) flight test service dates back to 1920-30s, when the CAGI’s Department of flight test and development (ОЭЛИД) was established. Almost all pre-war Tupolev airplanes were tested there. After A.N. Tupolev and other key specialists of the EDB were arrested, tests of the first Tu-2 prototypes ("103" and "103U") were performed by Air Force State Scientific Research Institute of the Red Banner (ГК НИИ ВВС). During the Great Patriotic War, in 1941-1943, a Flight-Experimental Station (FES) at the plant № 166, evacuated to Omsk, performed tests and development of Tu-2 prototypes and production aircraft. A.N. Tupolev assigned E.K. Stoman the head of the station. In November 1943, after the plant was returned to Moscow, a united FES based on that one from Omsk and on the flight test station of the plant № 156 was established, with E.K. Stoman as a head. Before the end of the War, tests and development of Tu-2 production airplane and Tu-2-based prototypes of various purpose and engine type (airplanes "62", "63", "65", "67", "68"), were performed at the station.
In 1947 construction and formation of Flight Test and Development base in Zhukovskiy as a branch of Tupolev EDB started. E.A. Ivanov was assigned the head of the base (later he was assigned the General designer of P.O. Sukhoi EDB). In the post-war period the main activities were concentrated on Tu-4 and its modifications, as well as on the first prototypes and production jets of Tupolev EDB ("77", "73", "78" and Tu-14). The Flight Test and Development base was put into operation in the beginning of 1950s. The first airplane that got its "ticket to sky" here was Tu-85 prototype bomber, in 1951.
From the beginning of 1950s, the Flight Test and Development base was performing large amount of tests on Tu-16 long-range jet bomber and Tu-95 strategic bomber, as well as on their modifications. From the middle of 1950s, the base was carrying out a large test and development campaign on the first Tupolev jet passenger aircraft – Tu-104 and Tu-110 middle-range liners, and since 1957, on Tu-114 intercontinental plane. In that period, tests of the first supersonic aircraft "98", "105" and "105А" (prototypes of Tu-128 and Tu-22 production combat airplanes) began. These airplanes started a new long period of the Flight Test and Development base, related to supersonic aircraft.
Since 1953 to 1958 M.N. Korneev was the head of the base. In 1958, after his retirement, A.S. Blagoveshenskyi, former head of Air Force State Scientific Research Institute of the Red Banner, was appointed the head of the base.
In 1960s tests of Tu-124, Tu-134 and modifications of these short-range airplanes, as well as Tu-128 supersonic fighter-interceptor were held at the base. These years, the base had performed huge amount of works on Tu-22 family aircraft development, thereby these airplanes passed into service of the soviet Air Force in the second half of 1960s. In the end of 1960s, the base started tests of Tu-154 new medium-range passenger airplane, Tu-144 prototype of supersonic passenger liner, Tu-22M0 multimode rocket carrier – bomber and Tu-142 anti-submarine aircraft. By the second half of 1960s, the base became a separate subdivision of Tupolev EDB to a large extent, with its own flight-test, calculating-experimental and manufacturing complexes and other subdivisions, so that the most difficult tests of modern aircraft could be conducted there. A test facility service (СИП) which dealt with UAV was included into the structure of the base. Due to enlargement of works related to new aircraft in this period, a number of test-pilots at the base had increased significantly. In the end of 1967 an engine-testing complex (МИК) of the base was built and put into operation in a phased manner. This complex was created by order of A.N. Tupolev for handling issues, related to the power plants of Tu-144 and other new and advanced aircraft of the EDB. The test bench allowed handling them with higher level of quality.
In 1973 the head of the base A.S. Blagoveshenskyi was superseded by D.A. Kogevnikov. In 1970s, the base was used for testing Tu-144 supersonic passenger liner with NK-144A and RD36-51A engines, a line of Tu-22M family aircraft (Tu-22M0, Tu-22M1, Tu-22M2 and Tu-22M3) and modifications of Tu-154 and Tu-134 passenger liners. Tests and developments of modernized variants of Tu-142 long-range anti-submarine aircraft were also conducted at the base. In the end of the 1970s tests in accordance with Tu-95K-22 modernized rocket carrier program and Tu-95MS long-range cruise missiles strategic carrier program were started at the base.
In 1982 V.T. Klimov was appointed the head of the base. In 1980s, main activities were concentrated on tests of Tu-160 strategic multimode rocket carrier – bomber, in cooperation with the customer. Simultaneously, works on Tu-95МС, Tu-22M3 and its reconnaissance version Tu-22МР were under way, as well as test of coupling it with new type of strike weapon. Besides, works on improvement civil airplanes were permanently conducted, including Tu-134A modifications – Tu-134Б, Tu-134УБЛ, Tu-134СХ. In addition, tests and developments of Tu-154M, a new modification of Tu-154, were performed in rather short time limits. Also, tests of Tu-204 were performed at the base. Furthermore, in 1980s, a large amount of preparatory works on Tu-155 experimental flying laboratory and ground equipment complex was performed. The power plant of this aircraft could run both on liquefied natural gas and on liquefied hydrogen. The beginning of Tu-155 flight tests in the end of 1980 became a trailblazing breakthrough in the field of cryogenic aircraft technologies for the EDB and all native aircraft industry.
During these years the base paid special attention to psychological compatibility of flight crews and concentration of the pilot during test of a specified aircraft type. Three flight services were established and then managed by the most experienced pilots, who had flown tens of planes of different types and classes. The first flight service specialized in Tu-160, Tu-144 and Tu-154 of all modifications, the second – in Tu-22M3, Tu-134 and their modifications, the third – in Tu-95/Tu-142 family. A well-proved system of choosing a senior pilot of the order (theme), who performed the first flight, and remained a chief pilot of the project during the whole test period, then supporting the airplane during its whole service life, was used. Nevertheless, each test-pilot after special training had to master all types of prototype and production airplanes that were presented at the base. Also, performing of transport operations on Tu-134 and Tu-154 types aircraft was obligatory for the pilots. Since 1988 till 1990, annual total test flying time of the base’s airplanes was equal to 3500 flight hours, with at least 1200 test flights per year, without mentioning transport and other flights. Such a big amount of works not only provided sufficient work load for the team, but also a quick improvement of their flying skills, because at least half of flight tests were performed in nonstandard conditions and extreme modes. At that time, assigned flight personnel consisted of 22 test-pilots, 14 test-navigators and 12 operators.
In 1991 M.V. Ulianov was appointed the head of the base. Amid the common reduction of orders for new airplanes and decrease of major and advanced works financing, a gradual scaling down of the works performed by the base began. For example, by the middle of 1990s, total flying time of the base reduced to several hundreds of flights per year. In spite of lack of financing, the base continued its work and testing of new aircraft. After several hardest years, which were survived by the base with honor and dignity, a stabilization and revival phase began. In the end of 1990s, Tupolev PJSC was established with the Flight Test and Development base as its affiliate. In 2001, when I.S. Shevchuk became a general director of the JSC, a current phase of Tupolev PJSC development, with extension of works on new airplanes, began. In 2004 V.G. Kovalenko was appointed the head of the base, with V.A. Naumov following him. Nowadays, the head of the base is A.B. Kosarev.
Today one of the main activities of the base is still related to Tu-204/Tu-214 family:

In December 1994 when Tu-204 got its Type Certificate, it started passenger operations. After the end of certification tests, the third prototype was modified in Tu-204-100 (which is now a base one in Tu-204/Tu-214 family).
Since 1992 a large amount of tests on Tu-204-120 with Rolls-Royce engines was performed.
In 1999, flight tests of Tu-214, new aircraft type of the family, started at the test base of KAPA n.a. Gorbunov in the city of Kazan, which ended in 2000, with Tu-214 getting first Russian    AP-25 certificate.
In 1994 Tu-204-300 (previously named Tu-234) modification of Tu-204 with changed airframe design and increased range was developed. In 2003, Aviastar-SP CJSC produced its first Tu-204-300. 110 test flights were performed in a short period (since 18.08.2003 till 24.12.2004). On May 14, 2005 the aircraft got its Type Certificate as a result of these tests.
Nowadays, a big amount of certification tests is performed at the aerodromes of serial plants in Ulyanovsk and Kazan. Tests of Tu-204-120CE, Tu-204-100E, Tu-204CE and other aircraft of Tu-204/Tu-214 family were performed there. Nowadays, tests of Tu-204-300A and purpose-built airplanes of this family are carried out at those plants. Works with new various purpose modifications of the growing Tu-204/Tu-214 family are to take place.
Since 1999 till now the Flight Test and Development Base in Zhukovskiy has performed a large amount of works on Tu-334, within the scope of its certification tests. As a result, this advanced short-range passenger aircraft got its Type Certificate.
At the present day tests of Tu-22M3 are carried out at the base.
Research on tactical performance enhancement of Tu-160 aircraft and its complex was also carried out there. As a result Tu-160 passed into service of the Air Force in 2005.
Since 1980s, the base was involved in works on Tu-95/Tu-142 family.
A large number of works on Tu-95MC has been performed to this day, that shows the aircraft has enhanced its performance.