The first airliner in the Soviet Union to receive international certification from ICAO was the Tupolev Tu-134. This short to medium range jet featured two engines at the rear, like its contemporaries the French Caravelle and the British BAC One-Eleven.
Taking flight on 29 July 1963 and seating 50 to 56 passengers, it entered service with Aeroflot in September 1967 on the route from Moscow to Adler. Range was published at 3,100 kilometres.
Tupolev Tu-134 Video
Following on from the video last week about the supersonic Concorde, this week we look at one of the most popular Soviet jet aircraft. Running for a little over 14 minutes, the video gives a decent overview of the project.
Tupolev stretched the Tu-134, with the improved version first flying on 22 April 1969 and entering service on 9 November 1970. This allowed seating to be increased to 72, though range was decreased slightly as a result.
Foreign orders came from a variety of airlines. Interflug in East Germany, LOT in Poland, and Malev in Hungary were some examples. 1980 saw another new version, with an increase in seating up to 96.
A total of 854 examples were produced from 1966 before production ended in 1989. Only the Yakovlev Yak-40 and Tupolev Tu-154 were more successful in the Soviet Union.
Flight Global report Russian carrier Alrosa is conducting the last flights with their Tupolev Tu-134 on 18 and 20 May 2019. Once this aircraft is retired, only Air Koryo in North Korea are reported to still operate the Tu-134.
It would have been rare enough for people in the west to travel on a Soviet built airliner in the days of the iron curtain. Did you ever have the opportunity? What was that like? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
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Featured image by Keishi Nukina via KN Aviation.