Tupolev announces death of chief designer Shevchuk

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Tupolev has announced the death of general designer and former president Igor Shevchuk, just days after the maiden flight of the company's latest aircraft design.

Shevchuk began working at Tupolev as an engineering intern in 1976. During his carrier, he took part in designing a host of aircraft types including the Tu-204, Tu-214 and Tu-334.

He was appointed as the design bureau's managing director in 1997, its board chairman in the following year and president in 2001. Tupolev says he bore the burden of leadership during the industry's "difficult years" and that he has been lost "too early" with many plans "unfinished".

After a management reshuflle two years ago, he retained the posts of Tupolev general designer and United Aircraft Corporation vice-president for strategic and special-purpose aviation.

Tupolev's latest aircraft, the Tu-204SM, began test flights on 29 December.