Tupolev Tu-154

The Tupolev Tu-154 (Russian: -154; NATO reporting name: Careless) is a three-engine medium-range narrow-body airliner designed in the mid 1960s and manufactured by Tupolev. As the workhorse of Soviet and (subsequently) Russian airlines for several decades, it serviced over a sixth of the world's landmass and carried half of all passengers flown by Aeroflot and its subsidiaries (137.5 million/year or 243.8 billion passenger kilometers in 1990). Having been exported and operated by 17 non-Russian airlines and a number of air forces, it remained the standard domestic route airliner of Russia and former Soviet states until the mid 2000s. With a cruising speed of 975 kilometres per hour (606 mph), the Tu-154 is one of the fastest civilian aircraft in operation and has a range of 5,280 kilometres (3,280 mi). Capable of operating from unpaved and gravel airfields, it was widely used in extreme Arctic conditions of Russia's northern and eastern regions where other airliners were unable to operate and where service facilities were very basic. With a service life of 45,000 hours (18,000 cycles) but capable of 80,000 hours with upgrades, it is expected to continue operations until 2016, although noise regulations have seen services to western Europe and other areas restricted. In January 2010, Russian flag carrier Aeroflot announced the retirement of its Tu-154 fleet after 40 years of service 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. The Tu-154 was developed to meet Aeroflot's requirement to replace the jet-powered Tu-104, the Antonov An-10

'Ukraine' and the Ilyushin Il-18 turboprops. The requirements called for either a payload capacity of 1618 tonnes (35,00040,000 lb) with a range of 2,8504,000 kilometres (1,7702,500 mi) while cruising at a speed of 900 km/h (560 mph), or a payload of 5.8 tonnes (13,000 lb) with a range of 5,8007,000 kilometres (3,6004,300 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 would be 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.[6] The first project chief was Sergey Yeger but in 1964, Dmitryi S. Markov assumed that position. In 1975 he turned it over to Aleksandr S. Shengardt.[7] 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.[8] 1025 Tu-154s have been built, 214 of which are still in service as of 14 December 2009.[9] In January of 2013 the Aviakor factory announced that it was about to deliver a new Tu-154M to the Russian Ministry of Defense 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.