Russia is setting out a timetable to withdraw Tupolev Tu-134 aircraft from operation, days after the fatal loss of an airframe on landing at Petrozavodsk.

President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the removal of the type from scheduled service and the Russian transport minister, Igor Levitin, discussed the withdrawal at a 23 June conference.

Participants noted that there were 179 Tu-134s in the fleet although only 90 were being operated, including 28 by UTAir.

The transport ministry said it has decided to submit a proposal to "curtail" efforts to extend the service life of the type.

Conference participants were also told that Russian federal aviation regulations will forbid operations by aircraft above 5,700kg, or with more than nine seats, which are not fitted with terrain proximity warning systems.

Types including the Tu-134, Antonov An-24 and Yakovlev Yak-40 would be affected by this ruling. The ministry said it had instructed federal aviation regulator Rosaviatsia to direct the prohibition of ticket sales for aircraft not equipped with such avionics.

The Tu-134 which crashed at Petrozavodsk had been operating a RusAir service from Moscow Domodedovo, with 43 passengers and nine crew members, when it came down on 20 June.

Rosaviatsia said the approach was conducted in darkness and poor weather, with a cloud base of just 170m and visibility of 2,100m.

Preliminary information, it added, indicated the aircraft collided with trees 200m to the right of the runway. The collision also resulted in the severing of electrical power lines to the airport, which had to switch to an emergency back-up supply.

Rosaviatsia said that the aircraft was completely destroyed in the accident but added that there was no evidence of fire or explosion beforehand. The captain had logged 8,500h including 3,100h on the Tu-134, while the co-pilot had 813h on type from a total of 2,580h.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news