Recent reports from Russia – quickly denied – that Lufthansa was among a group of blue-chip foreign carriers casting a serious eye over the in-development Irkut MC-21 narrowbody prompted us to research the 10 most popular in-service Russian and Soviet commercial types. Here is the list, according to Flightglobal’s Ascend Fleets database
1. Antonov An-24/26
In service: 283
The rugged 50-seat twin-turboprop, designed and flown in the late 1950s, was a workhorse for flag-carrier Aeroflot in Soviet times and widely exported. More than 1,300 An-24s were built and it remains a stalwart of many fleets. The An-26 was a later version with a retractable ramp.
2. Ilyushin II-76
In service: 104
The four-engine transport, which made its first flight in 1971, has been used mostly as a commercial and military freighter, and was designed to cope with unpaved runways and the Soviet Union’s worst weather conditions.
3. Antonov An-12
In service: 65
Used overwhelmingly as a cargo transport, the four-engine turboprop is still in limited service more than four decades after production ended.
=4. Yakovlev Yak-40
In service: 55
The three-engine regional jet, introduced in 1968, has always been a curio. As with many Soviet types, the ability to operate in harsh weather conditions – and in the Yak-40’s case from short runways – was key to its design.
=4. Tupolev Tu-134
In service: 55
Entering service in 1967 and with Aeroflot as a major customer, the 80-seat Tu-134 was a key type of many fleets from the 1970s to the early 2000s, but is now rapidly disappearing from service.
6. Tupolev Tu-154
In service: 54
The 150-seat, nippy if noisy, three-engined jet was used widely by Aeroflot and other Soviet airlines as their main airliner on domestic routes from the early 1970s, but is quickly coming to the end of its service life.
=7. Yakovlev Yak-42
In service: 39
It began as a stretch of the Yak-40, but the Yak-42, which entered service in 1980, developed into a low-winged, mid-range 120-seat trijet, the biggest airliner to date designed by the Moscow design bureau.
=7. Sukhoi Superjet 100
In service: 39
Unlike the rest of this list, in-service numbers of the Superjet 100 are rising as Sukhoi Civil Aircraft produces the regional jet from its plant in Russia’s far east. France’s Snecma and Italy’s Alenia Aermacchi are partners in the programme. The type has enjoyed some sales success in the West, notably with Mexican carrier Interjet.
9. Tupolev Tu-204
In service: 34
Entering service in 1990 and one of the most modern aircraft in this list, the Tu-204 is a 200-seat twinjet, designed to perform a similar role to the Boeing 757. Aviastar is to manufacture two Tu-204-300s for the Russian presidential service to be delivered at the end of this year.
10. Antonov An-148 family
In service: 26
Another post-Soviet programme in current production, the high-wing twinjet entered service in 2009 and carries up to 85 passengers. Developed by the Ukrainian design bureau, it is built in Ukraine as well as Russia. The 99-seater An-158 is a stretch version of the An-148.