The Tupolev Tu-134 (NATO codename: Crusty) is a Soviet twin-engined airliner, similar to the American Douglas DC-9. One of the most important and widely used aircraft in the former Warsaw Pact countries, the number in active service is decreasing because of noise restrictions. The model has seen long-term service with some 42 countries, with some European airlines having made very intense use of the 134 (as many as 12 takeoffs & landings per plane daily). In addition to regular passenger service, it has also been used in various airforce, army and navy support roles; for pilot and navigator training; and for aviation research and test projects. In recent years, a number of planes have been converted for use as VIP transportation. A total of 853 Tu-134s were built (of all versions, including research/test bed examples) with Aeroflot as the largest user: by 1995, the Tu-134 had carried 360 million passengers for that airline.
Design and development
Following the introduction of engines mounted on pylons on the rear fuselage by the French Sud Aviation Caravelle, airliner manufacturers around the world rushed to adopt the new layout. Its advantages included clean wing airflow without disruption by nacelles or pylons and decreased cabin noise. At the same time, placing heavy engines that far back created challenges with the location of the center of gravity in relation to the center of lift, which was at the wings. To make room for the engines, the tailplanes had to be relocated to the tail fin, which had to be stronger and therefore heavier, further compounding the tail-heavy arrangement.
During a 1960 visit to France, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was so impressed by the quiet cabin of the Caravelle, that on 1 August 1960 the Tupolev OKB received an official directive to create the Tu-124A with a similar engine arrangement. In 1961, the Soviet state airline, Aeroflot, updated its requirement specifications to include greater payload and passenger capacity.
The first Tu-124A prototype, CCCP-45075, first flew on 29 July 1963. Then, on 22 October 1963, the British BAC One-Eleven, which had a similar layout, crashed with the loss of all crew. The aircraft had stalled shortly after takeoff and entered pitch-up: The high-mounted tailplane became trapped in the turbulent wake produced by the wings (see deep stall), which prevented recovery from the stall. Tupolev took notice and the tailplane on Tu-124A was enlarged by 30% for greater control authority. Since Aeroflot's requirements dictated a larger aircraft than initially planned, the Soloviev design bureau developed the more powerful D-30 low-bypass turbofan engines. On 20 November 1963, the new airliner was officially designated Tu-134.
Design curiosities of the Tu-134 included a sharp wing sweepback of 35 degrees, compared to 25-28 degrees in its Western analogues. The engines on early production Tu-134s lacked thrust reversers, which made the aircraft one of the few airliners to use a brake parachute for landing. The majority of onboard electronics operated on direct current. The lineage of early Soviet airliners could be traced directly to the Tupolev Tu-16 strategic bomber, and the Tu-134 carried over the glass nose for the navigator and the landing gear fitted with low-pressure tires to permit operation from unpaved airfields.
In 1968, Tupolev began work on an improved Tu-134 variant. The fuselage received a 2.1 m (6 ft 10 in) plug for greater passenger capacity and an auxiliary power unit in the tail. The upgraded D-30 engines now featured thrust reversers, replacing the cumbersome parachute. The first Tu-134A, converted from a production Tu-134, flew on 22 April 1969. The first airline flight was on 9 November 1970.
In September 1967, the Tu-134 made its first scheduled flight from Moscow to Adler. The Tu-134 was the first Soviet airliner to receive international certification from the International Civil Aviation Organization, which permitted it to be used on international routes.
The type is still in widespread use in Russia and other former Soviet countries, but high fuel and maintenance costs limit the number used today. 69 Tu-134 have been destroyed in accidents and wars, 35 of these were non-fatal incidents, and in one of the remaining 34 fatal incidents none inside the plane died. The Tu-134 has also found a new life as a business jet with many having an expensive business interior. With the introduction of new ICAO noise regulations, Tu-134s have been effectively banned from much of European airspace due to loud D-30 engines dating back to the 1960s.
The largest fleet of Tu-134 still exists in Russia (146 of about 230 planes of this model). In March 2007 the Russian Minister of transportation Igor Levitin claimed that Tu-134s (as well as Tu-154s) are old and obsolete and should be replaced by Sukhoi Superjet 100 or its foreign analogues within five years.
As of 5 June 2009 a total of 242 Tupolev Tu-134 aircraft (all variants) remain in airline service. Major operators include: Aeroflot-Nord (13), Belavia (1), Moskovia Airlines (6), Kogalymavia (6), Rossiya (4), S-Air (6), Samara Airlines (6), Sirius-Aero (6), UTair Aviation (32) and Yamal Airlines (10).
Past and present operators: Adjarian Airlines, Aeroflot, Aeroflot-Don, Aeroflot-Nord, Aeroflot-Plus, Aero Rent, Air Armenia, Airest, Air Kharkov, Air Koryo, Air Lithuania, Air Moldova, Air Ukraine, Alania, Albanian Airlines, Alrosa-Avia, Armavia, Armenian Airlines, Astrakan Airlines, Astral, Atlant-Soyuz Airlines, Atyrau Airways, Aurela, Avcom, Aviaenergo, Aviaprima, Arkhangelsk Airlines, Azerbaijan Airlines, Aviogenex, BAL Bashkirian Airlines, Belair, Belavia, Benin Golf Air, Black Sea Airlines, Cheboksary, Chelyabinsk Air Enterprise, Chernomorskie Airlines, CSA, Dagestan Airlines, EgyptAir, Enkor, Estonian Air, Euro-Asia Air, FlyLal, Gazpromavia, Georgian National Airlines, Gomelavia, Grizodubovoy, Moskovia Airlines, GST Aero, Harka Air, Interflug, Iraqi Airways, Izshavia, KD Avia, Karat, Kazair West, Kirov Air, Kavminvodyavia, Kolkov Air, Komi Avia, Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyzstan Airlines, LatCharter, LOT Polish Airlines, Malév Hungarian Airlines, Marsland Aviation, Moscow Airways, NAPO, Orbi Georgian, Orenburg Airlines, Orient Avia, Perm Airlines, Polet Airlines, Progress, Pulkovo Aviation Enterprise, Rossiya, Rusline, Samal Air, Samara Airlines, Sibaviatrans, Syrian Arab Airlines, Tajik Air, Tatarstan Airlines, UM Airlines, UTair Aviation, UTAGE, Vietnam Airlines, Volga Aviaexpress, Voronezh Avia, Yamal Airlines, Yukos Avia.
Accidents and incidents
Data from OAO Tupolev
Published - July 2009
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