Many variants of this airliner have been built. Like its western counterpart, the
727, many of the Tu-154s in service have been hush-kitted, and some converted to freighters.
- Tu-154 production started in 1970, while first passenger flight was performed at 9 February 1972. Powered by
Kuznetsov NK-8-2 turbofans, it carried 164 passengers. About 42 were built.
- The first upgraded version of the original Tu-154, the A model, in production since 1974, added center-section fuel tanks and more emergency exits, while engines were upgraded to higher-thrust Kuznetsov NK-8-2U. Other upgrades include automatic flaps/slats and stabilizer controls and modified avionics. Max. take-off weight – 94,000 kg (207,235 lb). There were 15 different interior layouts for the different domestic and international customers of the airplane, seating between 144 and 152 passengers. The easiest way to tell the A model from the base model is by looking at the spike at the junction of the fin and tail; this is a fat bullet on the A model rather than a slender spike on the base model.
- As the original Tu-154 and Tu-154A suffered wing cracks after a few years in service, a version with a new, stronger wing, designated Tu-154B, went into production in 1975. It also had an extra fuel tank in fuselage, extra emergency exits in the tail, and the maximum take-off weight increased to 98,000 kg (216,053 lb). Also important to Aeroflot was that the increased passenger capacity led to lower operating costs. As long as the airplane had the NK-8-2U engines the only way to improve the economics of the airplane was to spread costs across more seats.
autopilot was certified for ICAO Category II automatic approaches. Most previously built Tu-154 and Tu-154A were also modified into this variant, with the replacement of the wing. Maximum take-off weight increased to 96,000 kg (211,644 lb). One hundred eleven were built.
- Aeroflot wanted this version for increased revenue on domestic routes. It carried 160 passengers. This version also had some minor modifications to fuel system, avionics, air conditioning, and landing gear. Sixty-four were built from 1977 to 1978.
- A minor modernization of Tu-154B-1. The airplane was designed to be converted from the 160 passenger version to a 180 passenger version by removing the galley.
 The procedure took about two and a half hours. Some of the earlier Tu-154Bs were modified to that standard. Maximum take-off weight increased to 98,000 kg (216,053 lb), later to 100,000 kg (220,462 lb). Some 311 aircraft were built, including VIP versions, a few of them are still in use.
- The Tu-154S is an all-cargo or freighter version of the Tu-154B, using a strengthened floor, and adding a forward cargo door on the port side of the fuselage. The airplane could carry nine Soviet PAV-3 pallets. Maximum payload – 20,000 kg (44,092 lb). There were plans for 20 aircraft, but only nine were converted; two from Tu-154 models and seven from Tu-154B models. Trials were held in the early 1980s and the aircraft was authorized regular operations in 1984. By 1997 all had been retired.
- The Tu-154M and Tu-154M Lux are the most highly upgraded versions, which first flew in 1982 and entered mass production in 1984. It uses more fuel-efficient
Soloviev D-30KU-154 turbofans. Together with significant aerodynamic refinement, this led to much lower fuel consumption and therefore longer range, as well as lower operating costs. The aircraft has new double-slotted (instead of triple-slotted) flaps, with an extra 36-degree position (in addition to existing 15, 28 and 45-degree positions on older versions), which allows reduction of noise on approach. It also has a relocated
auxiliary power unit and numerous other improvements. Maximum takeoff weight increased first to 100,000 kg (220,462 lb), then to 102,000 kg (224,872 lb). Some aircraft are certified to 104,000 kg (229,281 lb). About 320 were manufactured. Mass production ended in 2006, though limited manufacturing continued as of January 2009.(photo link) No new airframes have been built since the early 1990s, and production since then involved assembling aircraft from components on hand.
 Chinese Tu-154MD electronic intelligence aircraft carries a large-size synthetic aperture radar (SAR) under its mainframe.
- Cosmonaut trainer. This was a salon VIP aircraft modified to train
cosmonauts to fly the
Buran reusable spacecraft, the
Soviet equivalent of the US
Space Shuttle. The Tu-154 was used because the Buran required a steep descent, and the Tu-154 was capable of replicating that. The cabin featured trainee workstations, one of which was the same as the Buran's flightdeck. The forward baggage compartment was converted into a camera bay, because the aircraft was also used to train cosmonauts in observation and photographic techniques.
- Tu-154M-ON monitoring aircraft
- Germany modified one of the Tu-154s it had on hand from the former
East German Air Force into an observation airplane. This airplane was involved with the
Open Skies inspection flights. It was converted at the
Elbe Aircraft Plant (Elbe Flugzeugwerke) in
Dresden, and flew in 1996. After two dozen monitoring missions, it was lost in a mid-air collision in 1997.
- The Russians also converted a Tu-154M to serve as an
Open Skies monitoring aircraft. They used the Tu-154M-LK-1, and converted it to a Tu-154M-ON. When the aircraft is not flying over North America, it is used to ferry cosmonauts around. China is also believed to have converted one Tu-154 to an
electronic countermeasures aircraft.
- Design of this variant started in 1994, but the first aircraft were not delivered until 1998. It is an upgraded version with Western avionics, including the
Flight Management Computer,
TCAS, and other modern systems. The airplane could carry up to 157 passengers. The cabin featured an automatic oxygen system and larger overhead bins. Only three were produced, as payment of debts owed by Russia to
Slovakia. Three aircraft were delivered in 1998 to
Slovak Airlines, and sold back to Russia in 2003.
- A Tu-154 converted into a testbed for alternative fuels; it first flew in 1988 and was used until the fall of the Soviet Union, after which it was put in storage.
- Initial designation of the Tu-154M.
- Proposed stretched version of Tu-154.
- Proposed shortened version of Tu-154.
- Proposed version,never built