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Tu-334 destined for VIP business jet market

Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (OAK) is to sell its 102-seat Tupolev Tu-334 primarily as a super-large-cabin business jet.

OAK president Aleksei Fiodorov says Russian government agencies alone are expected to buy "not less than 50" Tu-334s to replace about 150 Tu-134s in service with the Russian air force and presidential air detachment. These customers prefer the Tu-334 to the similar-sized Sukhoi SuperJet 100 and Antonov An-148 because it does not have western components.

OAK's plan is to market the SSJ100 primarily to large, scheduled airlines operating from high-quality airports, while the An-148 will be offered to smaller regional airlines flying from smaller, less developed aerodromes.

Says Fiodorov: "With that we separate the three types [Tu-334, SSJ100 and An-148] into distinctly different market niches so as to avoid unnecessary internal competition.

Tupolev Tu-334 Vladamir Karnozov
 © Vladamir Karnozov

"Also, we offer the Tu-334 with a VIP interior to the business community, so as to take advantage of the aircraft's large cross section, which gives it the widest cabin in the class, comparable to the Boeing Business Jet. I believe we will find many elite customers that would appreciate the airplane for the cabin and comfort resulting from rear location of the engines. There is a big, rising world demand for top-class VIP jets, and the Tu-334 is an ideal platform for this market."

The Tu-334VIP is the intended replacement for about thirty Yak-42D VIP conversions flying with business fleet operators and as corporate jets. A Yak 42D, operated by S-air and Jet Trading Group, is the latest conversion with luxury interior from the Russia-Belorus joint venture Kvand - and it was the only Russian exhibit among 40 business aircraft exhibited at Jet Expo 2008.

OAK is running a tender between Russian completions centres for Tu-334 VIP interiors. Specifications call for a main passenger sleeping compartment, a meeting room and a bathroom with shower.

Last year the Kremlin placed an order for six Tu-334s - these will serve with the presidential air detachment of GTK Rossiya. Deliveries are due in late 2011 and early 2012. In Russian practice, a new type is given permission to begin operations as a Russian government personal transport only after it proves reliable in revenue service. For this reason the two operable examples used for flight tests and certification purposes are being prepared for revenue service and will commence passenger operations in November-December 2009, says Tupolev president Igor Shevchuk.

Shevchuk also says that a 2005 Russian government order, placed when Tu-334 production was set up at the Kazan APO factory, remains valid. New workshops, he says, will be erected "on a new site, on the other side of the plant's runway, opposite to where the existing KAPO workshops are located". KAPO will complete production preparations in 2010.

He adds that owing to KAPO's limited manufacturing capacity, the empennage will be produced in Tagangor and the wing will also be outsourced.