Tupolev Tu-154

Tu-154
Polish Air Force Tupolev Tu-154 Dmitry Karpezo-2.jpg
A Tupolev Tu-154M in Polish Air Force livery flying in 2008. This aircraft crashed in Smolensk, Russia, in 2010, killing 96 people including the Polish president.
Role Narrow-body jet airliner
National origin Soviet Union and Russian Federation
Manufacturer Tupolev
Designer Tupolev Design Bureau
First flight 4 October 1968; 48 years ago (1968-10-04)
Introduction 7 February 1972 with Aeroflot
Status In limited service
Primary users Russian Air Force
People's Liberation Army Air Force
ALROSA
Belavia
Produced 1968–2013 [1]
Number built 1,026
Variants Tupolev Tu-155

The Tupolev Tu-154 ( Russian: Tyполев Ту-154; NATO reporting name: Careless) is a three-engine medium-range narrow-body airliner designed in the mid-1960s and manufactured by Tupolev. A workhorse of Soviet and (subsequently) Russian airlines for several decades, it carried half of all passengers flown by Aeroflot and its subsidiaries (137.5 million/year or 243.8 billion passenger km in 1990), remaining the standard domestic-route airliner of Russia and former Soviet states until the mid-2000s. It was exported to 17 non-Russian airlines and used as head-of-state transport by the air forces of several countries.

With a cruising speed of 900 kilometres per hour (560 mph) [2] the Tu-154 is one of the fastest civilian aircraft in use and has a range of 5,280 kilometres (3,280 mi). Capable of operating from unpaved and gravel airfields with only basic facilities, it was widely used in the extreme Arctic conditions of Russia's northern/eastern regions where other airliners were unable to operate. Originally designed for a 45,000 hour service life (18,000 cycles) but capable of 80,000 hours with upgrades, it is expected to continue in service until 2016, although noise regulations have restricted flights to western Europe and other regions.

In January 2010 Russian flag carrier Aeroflot announced the retirement of its Tu-154 fleet after 40 years with the last scheduled flight being Aeroflot Flight 736 from Ekaterinburg to Moscow on 31 December 2009. [3]

Since 1968 there have been 39 fatal incidents involving the Tu-154, most of which were caused either by factors unrelated to the aircraft, or by its extensive use in demanding conditions. [4] [5]

Following a crash in 2016 all Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft in Russia were grounded. [6] However, the Tu-154 is still being used as of January 2017[ citation needed][ by whom?].

Development

Tu-154 for Russian Ministry of Defence Manufacturing, 2009. One of several airframes built in the 1990s and left unsold

The Tu-154 was developed to meet Aeroflot's requirement to replace the jet-powered Tu-104, the Antonov An-10 and the Ilyushin Il-18 turboprops. The requirements called for either a payload capacity of 16–18 tonnes (35,000–40,000 lb) with a range of 2,850–4,000 kilometres (1,770–2,490 mi) while cruising at 900 km/h (560 mph), or a payload of 5.8 tonnes (13,000 lb) with a range of 5,800–7,000 kilometres (3,600–4,300 mi) while cruising at 850 km/h (530 mph). A take-off distance of 2,600 metres (8,500 ft) at maximum take-off weight was also stipulated as a requirement. Conceptually similar to the British Hawker Siddeley Trident, which first flew in 1962, and the American Boeing 727, which first flew in 1963, the medium-range Tu-154 was marketed by Tupolev at the same time as Ilyushin was marketing the long-range Ilyushin Il-62. The Soviet Ministry of Aircraft Industry chose the Tu-154 as it incorporated the latest in Soviet aircraft design and best met Aeroflot's anticipated requirements for the 1970s and 1980s. [7]

The first project chief was Sergey Yeger; in 1964, Dmitryi S. Markov assumed that position. In 1975, the project lead role was turned over to Aleksandr S. Shengardt. [8]

The Tu-154 first flew on 4 October 1968. The first deliveries to Aeroflot were in 1970 with freight (mail) services beginning in May 1971 and passenger services in February 1972. There was still limited production of the 154M model as of January 2009 despite previous announcements of the end of production in 2006. [9] 1025 Tu-154s have been built, 214 of which were still in service as of 14 December 2009. [10] The last serial Tu-154 was delivered to the Russian Defense Ministry on 19 February 2013 [11] from the Aviakor factory, equipped with upgraded avionics, a VIP interior and a communications suite. The factory has 4 unfinished hulls in its inventory which can be completed if new orders are received. [12]