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 takeoff distance of 2,600 metres (8,500 ft) at maximum takeoff 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.
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.
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. 1025 Tu-154s have been built, 214 of which were still in service as of 14 December 2009. The last serial Tu-154 was delivered to the Russian Defense Ministry on 19 February 2013 from the Aviakor factory, equipped with upgraded avionics, a VIP interior and a communications suite. The factory has four unfinished hulls in its inventory which can be completed if new orders are received.