Russian twinjet could be seen again in western Europe with more efficient Progress ZMKB D-36 powerplants
A modernisation programme is being proposed for the ageing Tupolev Tu-134 twinjet to enable it meet new international noise and environmental standards, allowing it to fly again in western Europe.
Tu-134 design bureau Tupolev and the two Russian factories that overhaul the aircraft have made the proposal because of continuing delays in the introduction of the airliner's planned successor, the Tu-334. Although the new aircraft has recently been certificated after a protracted development programme, RSK MiG - which has the manufacturing rights - is having difficulty raising the necessary finance to begin series production.
The principal modifications proposed include replacing the Tu-134's Aviadvigatel D-30 engines with derated Progress ZMKB D-36s that are quieter, more efficient and have lower emissions. D-36s are also used on Yakovlev Yak-42s. Other modifications include improved avionics and aerodynamic changes. Modification of a prototype, owned by Russia's GosNII GA - the State Scientific Research Institute of Civil Aviation - is close to completion at the Minsk overhaul factory.
The last of 850 Tu-134s to be built was delivered 19 years ago, and Tupolev says that around 240 aircraft remain in service or could be restored. It adds that the aircraft, which was originally designed for a life of 30,000h or 20 years, is probably the most robust Soviet-era airliner, and that its life could be extended by 15 to 20 years.
An increase in demand for air travel has left Russia's airlines significantly short of capacity, and unable to easily expand through the acquisition of Western aircraft as the import taxes on foreign-built aircraft remain high.
PAUL DUFFY / MOSCOW
Source: Flight International