Russian flag-carrier Aeroflot has withdrawn the Tupolev Tu-134 from mainline operations after keeping the Soviet-era twin-jet in service for more than 40 years.
Aeroflot’s final Tu-134 flight, SU753 from Kaliningrad to Moscow Sheremetyevo on 31 December, brought to an end the most prominent role undertaken by the type.
The carrier has 14 remaining in its fleet and will offer these to subsidiary carriers Aeroflot-Don and Aeroflot-Nord for purchase.
Developed from the Tupolev Tu-124 – and originally designated the Tu-124A – the 68-seat aircraft first flew in July 1963 after emerging with a design that followed the trend towards rear-engined jets.
It was equipped with two Soloviev D-30 powerplants and featured characteristics such as a glazed nose.
From a total of 852 Tu-134s some 162 were still in operation two years ago when more than 220 remained on the Russian state registry for civil aircraft.
Several Warsaw Pact states adopted the Tu-134 which saw service with East German carrier Interflug – the first export customer – plus Polish operator LOT, Hungary’s Malev, CSA of Czechoslovakia, and Balkan Bulgarian Airlines.
It was also operated by a small number of non-Soviet carriers including Syrian Arab Airlines.
NATO code-named the aircraft ‘Crusty’ and, in addition to airline operations, the type was employed as a military transport. Several Tu-134s were modified with distinctive sharp nose sections for training strategic bomber crews.
Aeroflot performed its first international flight with the type in September 1967 on the Moscow-Stockholm route. The carrier says it has operated some 600 Tu-134s in total and that, over its period of service, the type has carried nearly 10 million passengers.
“It became popular through enabling simplicity of operation, ease of flight and adequate comfort for passengers,” says the airline. But the relative inefficiency of the Tu-134 and its inability to comply with noise restrictions have gradually forced Aeroflot to withdraw the twin-jet from service.
It is replacing the Tu-134s with Sukhoi Superjet 100 regional jets and Airbus A320-family aircraft. Aeroflot is also intending to phase out its Tupolev Tu-154s by 2010.
Source: flightglobal.com's sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news