As it was Boeings 727 last week, it is only right to have this, Tupolev's TU154, this week This is the fourth in the series of short features on three engined jet airliners.
First flight 04/10/1968
Announced in the spring of 1966 the TU154 was intended to replace the TU104, IL18 and AN10 on Aeroflot's medium to long sectors. The trijet was designed, like many of the soviet aircraft of that era, to operate from poor unprepared strips and was aimed not only at Aeroflot but at the airlines in eastern Europe and China. The first prototype took to the skies on October 4, 1968 and entering service with Aeroflot in early 1970 it went on to become a mainstay of the fleet carrying a substantial proportion of all Aeroflot's passengers during its heyday.
Following the break up of the USSR the type was seen in a myriad of colourful liveries from many of the former soviet states finding homes with many different airlines.
There have been many different versions of the aircraft some stemming from initial problems found with early versions as well as the more normal route of higher gross weights and increasingly powerful engines.
Initially seating up to 158 passengers the latter versions could carry up to 180 although remaining the same size. The aircraft has also gone on to have many different roles from standard conversions such as freighters to monitoring aircraft and Buran cosmonaut training.
It has also been used quite widely as Government and military transport. There are very few aircraft known to remain in service but the main stalwart of Soviet era aircraft, Air Koryo, is still thought to have two in its fleet.
If you are interested in a brief history of different aircraft types including first flights then take a look at my book called ‘Flying Firsts', information available by clicking the image below.