The Tupolev Tu-154 (Russian: Ту-154; NATO reporting name: Careless) is a three-engine medium-range narrow-body airliner designed in the mid-1960s and manufactured by Tupolev. As the workhorse of Soviet and (subsequently) Russian airlines for several decades, it carried half of all passengers flown by Aeroflot and its subsidiaries (137.5 million/year or 243.8 billion passenger km in 1990), remaining the standard domestic-route airliner of Russia and former Soviet states until the mid-2000s. It was exported to 17 non-Russian airlines and used as head-of-state transport by the air forces of a number of countries.
With a cruising speed of 975 kilometres per hour (606 mph), the Tu-154 is one of the fastest civilian aircraft in use and has a range of 5,280 kilometres (3,280 mi). Capable of operating from unpaved and gravel airfields with only basic facilities, it was widely used in extreme Arctic conditions of Russia's northern/eastern regions where other airliners were unable to operate. Originally designed for a 45,000 hr service life (18,000 cycles) but capable of 80,000 hrs with upgrades, it is expected to continue in service until 2016, although noise regulations have seen flights to western Europe and other areas restricted. In January 2010, Russian flag carrier Aeroflot announced the retirement of its Tu-154 fleet after 40 years, with the last scheduled flight being Aeroflot Flight 736 from Ekaterinburg to Moscow on 31 December 2009.
|Tupolev Tu-154M in latest Aeroflot livery|
|Role||Narrow-body jet airliner|
|National origin||Soviet Union/Russia|
|Designer||Tupolev Design Bureau|
|First flight||4 October 1968|
|Introduction||February 7, 1972(Aeroflot)|
|Status||Out of production, In service|
Alrosa Mirny Air Enterprise
|Unit cost||$45 million|
The Tu-154 was developed to meet Aeroflot's requirement to replace the jet-powered Tu-104, the Antonov An-10 'Ukraine' and the Ilyushin Il-18 turboprops. The requirements called for either a payload capacity of 16–18 tonnes (35,000–40,000 lb) with a range of 2,850–4,000 kilometres (1,770–2,500 mi) while cruising at a speed of 900 km/h (560 mph), or a payload of 5.8 tonnes (13,000 lb) with a range of 5,800–7,000 kilometres (3,600–4,300 mi) while cruising at 850 km/h (530 mph). A take-off distance of 2,600 metres (8,500 ft) at maximum take-off weight was also stipulated as a requirement. Conceptually similar to the British Hawker Siddeley Trident, which first flew in 1962, and the American Boeing 727, which first flew in 1963, the medium-range Tu-154 would be marketed by Tupolev at the same time as Ilyushin was marketing the long-range Ilyushin Il-62. The Soviet Ministry of Aircraft Industry chose the Tu-154 as it incorporated the latest in Soviet aircraft design and best met Aeroflot's anticipated requirements for the 1970s and 1980s.
The first project chief was Sergey Yeger but in 1964, Dmitryi S. Markov assumed that position. In 1975 he turned it over to Aleksandr S. Shengardt.
The Tu-154 first flew on 4 October 1968. The first deliveries to Aeroflot were in 1970 with freight (mail) services beginning in May 1971 and passenger services in February 1972. There was still limited production of the 154M model as of January 2009, despite previous announcements of the end of production in 2006. The last serial Tu-154 airplane was delivered to the Russian Defense Ministry on 19 February 2013. 1025 Tu-154s have been built, 214 of which are still in service as of 14 December 2009. In January 2013 the Aviakor factory announced that it was about to deliver a new Tu-154M to the Russian Ministry of Defense equipped with upgraded avionics, a VIP interior and a communications suite. The factory has 4 unfinished hulls in its inventory which can be completed if new orders are received.
The Tu-154 is powered by three rear-mounted low-bypass turbofan engines arranged similarly to those of the Boeing 727, but it is slightly larger than its American counterpart. Both the 727 and the Tu-154 use an S-duct for the middle (number 2) engine. The original model was equipped with Kuznetsov NK-8-2 engines, which were replaced with Soloviev D-30KU-154 in the Tu-154M. All Tu-154 aircraft models have a relatively high thrust-to-weight-ratio which gave excellent performance, although at the expense of poorer fuel efficiency, which became an important factor in later decades as fuel costs grew.
The flight deck is fitted with conventional dual yoke control columns. Flight control surfaces are hydraulically operated.
The cabin of the Tu-154, although of the same six-abreast seating layout, gives the impression of an oval interior, with a lower ceiling than is common on Boeing and Airbus airliners. The passenger cabin accommodates 128 passengers in a two-class layout and 164 passengers in single-class layout, and up to 180 passengers in high-density layout. The layout can be modified to what is called a winter version where some seats are taken out and a wardrobe is installed for passenger coats. The passenger doors are also smaller than on its Boeing and Airbus counterparts. Furthermore, luggage space in the overhead compartments is very limited.
Like the Tupolev Tu-134, the Tu-154 has a wing swept back at 35° at the quarter-chord line. The British Hawker Siddeley Trident has the same sweepback angle, while the Boeing 727 has a slightly smaller sweepback angle of 32°. The wing also has anhedral (downward sweep) which is a distinguishing feature of Russian low-wing airliners designed during this era. Most Western low-wing airliners such as the contemporary Boeing 727 have Dihedral (upward sweep). The anhedral means that Russian airliners have poor lateral stability compared to their Western counterparts, but also have weaker dutch roll tendencies, eliminating the need for a yaw damper.
Considerably heavier than its predecessor Soviet-built airliner the Ilyushin Il-18, the Tu-154 was equipped with an oversized landing gear to reduce ground load, enabling it to operate from the same runways. The aircraft has two six-wheel main bogies fitted with large low-pressure tires that retract into pods extending from the trailing edges of the wings (a common Tupolev feature), plus a two-wheel nose gear unit. Soft oleo struts (shock absorbers) provide a much smoother ride on bumpy airfields than most airliners, which only very rarely operate on such poor surfaces.
The original requirement was to have a three-person flight crew – captain, first officer and flight engineer – as opposed to 4/5-person crew on other Soviet airliners. It became evident that a fourth crew member, a navigator, was still needed, and a seat was added on production aircraft, although his workstation was compromised due to the limitations of the original design. Navigators are no longer trained and this profession will become obsolete with the retirement of older Soviet-era planes.
The plane's avionics suite, for the first time in the Soviet Union, is built to American airworthiness standards. The latest variant (Tu-154M-100, introduced 1998) includes an NVU-B3 Doppler navigation system, a triple autopilot, which provides an automatic ILS approach according to ICAO category II weather minima, an autothrottle, a Doppler drift and speed measure system (DISS), "Kurs-MP" radio navigation suite and others. A stability and control augmentation system improves handling characteristics during manual flight. Modern upgrades normally include a TCAS, GPS and other modern systems, mostly American or EU-made.
Early versions of the Tu-154 cannot be modified to meet the current Stage III noise regulations and are banned from flying where those regulations are in force, such as Europe. The Tu-154M may use hush kits to meet Stage III and theoretically Stage IV. However, current European Union regulations forbid the use of hush kits to meet Stage IV. The Tu-154M would need to be re-engined to meet Stage IV within the EU, an extensive and potentially expensive upgrade.
Many variants of this airliner have been built. Like its western counterpart, the 727, many of the Tu-154s in service have been hush-kitted, and some converted to freighters.
As of 26 March 2012 104 Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft (all variants) remained in airline service. As of 20 February 2011 in Iran, all the remaining numbers of this aircraft were grounded after two recent incidents. Major operators include:
|Alrosa Mirny Air Enterprise||6|
|Kaz Air Trans||1|
|Vladivostok Air||3 (reserve fleet)|
Past and present operators:
Abakan Air Enterprise, Aerokuznetsk, Aeroservice Kazakhstan, Aerotrans, Aerovolga, Air Georgia, Air Great Wall, Air Savari, AJT, Amur Avia, Asian Star, Aviaprad, Aviaprima, AVL Arkhangel, Baltic Express, Barnaul Air, Bratsk Air, Chelal, Chernomoravia, China Glory, China Xinjiang, Chita Avia, Diamond Sakha, East Line, Elk Estonian, Georgia Air Prague, Gomel UAD, Imair, Iron Dragonfly, Khabarovsk Aero, Latpass, Macedonia Airservice, Murmansk Air, Nizhny Novgorod Air, Orbi Georgian, Sakha Avia, Surgut Avia, Tomsk Air, Transeuropean, Turanair, Tyumen Airlines, Ulyanovsk Airlines, Vitair.
|Length||48.0 metres (157 ft 6 in)|
|Wingspan||37.55 metres (123 ft 2 in)|
|Wing area||201.5 square metres (2,169 sq ft)|
|Height||11.4 metres (37 ft 5 in)|
|Maximum take-off weight||98,000 kilograms (220,000 lb) – 100,000 kilograms (220,000 lb)||102,000 kilograms (220,000 lb) – 104,000 kilograms (230,000 lb)|
|Empty weight||50,700 kilograms (112,000 lb)||55,300 kilograms (122,000 lb)|
|Maximum speed||950 km/h (510 kn)|
|Range fully loaded||2,500 kilometres (1,600 mi)||5,280 kilometres (3,280 mi)|
|Range with max fuel||3,900 kilometres (2,400 mi)||6,600 kilometres (4,100 mi)|
|Service ceiling||12,100 metres (39,700 ft)|
|Engine (x 3)||Kuznetsov NK-8-2U||Soloviev D-30KU-154|
|Max. thrust (x 3)||90 kN (20,000 lbf) each||103 kN (23,148 lbf) each|
|Max. fuel capacity||47,000 litres (10,000 imp gal; 12,000 US gal)||49,700 litres (10,900 imp gal; 13,100 US gal)|