Tu-134
A Tretyakovo Air Transport Tu-134 at Domodedovo International Airport
Role Airliner
National origin Soviet Union
Design group Tupolev
Built by Kharkiv State Aircraft Manufacturing Company
First flight 29 July 1963
Introduction 9 September 1970 [1]
Status In limited use
Primary users Aeroflot (historical)
Soviet Air Force (historical)
Air Koryo
ALROSA (historical)
Produced 1966–1989[2]
Number built 854 (852 + 2 prototypes)[2]
Developed from Tupolev Tu-124

The Tupolev Tu-134 (NATO reporting name: Crusty) is a twin-engined, narrow-body jet airliner built in the Soviet Union for short and medium-haul routes from 1966 to 1989. The original version featured a glazed-nose design and, like certain other Russian airliners (including its sister model the Tu-154), it can operate from unpaved airfields.

One of the most widely used aircraft in former Comecon countries, the number in active service is decreasing because of operational safety concerns and noise restrictions. The model has seen long-term service with some 42 countries, with some European airlines having scheduled as many as 12 daily takeoffs and landings per plane. In addition to regular passenger service, it has also been used in various air force, army and navy support roles; for pilot and navigator training; and for aviation research and test projects. In recent years, a number of Tu-134s have been converted for use as VIP transports and business jets. A total of 854 Tu-134s were built of all versions (including 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

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Tu-134UBL cockpit

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 centre of gravity in relation to the centre 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.[3]

Looking through the nose of an Aeroflot-Nord Tu-134 (2009)

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. The requirement was also driven by the need to replace slow, aging piston-engined Il-14s on domestic routes. In 1961, the Soviet state airline, Aeroflot, updated its requirement specifications to include greater payload and passenger capacity.

The first Tu-124A prototype, SSSR-45075, first flew on 29 July 1963. On 22 October 1963, the prototype British BAC One-Eleven, which had a similar layout, crashed with the loss of all crew while testing its stalling properties. The aircraft had entered pitch-up: the high-mounted tailplane became trapped in the turbulent wake produced by the wings (deep stall), which prevented recovery from the stall. As a result, 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 designated Tu-134.

Design curiosities of the Tu-134 included a sharp wing sweepback of 35 degrees, compared to 25–28 degrees in its counterparts. 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.

Serial production began in 1966 at the Kharkov Aviation Production Association, and production of the Tu-124 was discontinued. The Tu-134 was designed for short-haul lines with low passenger traffic. Originally the aircraft had 56 seats in a single class configuration, or 50 seats in a two-class configuration.

In 1968, Tupolev began work on an improved Tu-134 variant with a 76-seat capacity. The fuselage received a 2.1-metre (6 ft 11 in) plug for greater passenger capacity and an auxiliary power unit in the tail. As a result, the maximum range was reduced from 3,100 kilometers to 2,770 kilometers. The upgraded D-30 engines now featured thrust reversers, replacing the 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. An upgraded version, the Tu-134B began production in 1980, with the navigator position abandoned, and seating capacity increased to 96 seats. Efforts subsequently began to develop a Tu-134D with increased engine thrust, but the project was cancelled.

Operational history

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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. Due to this certification, Aeroflot used most of its Tu-134s on international routes. In 1968, the first export customers, Interflug of East Germany, LOT Polish Airlines and Malév Hungarian Airlines purchased the Tu-134. In 1969, the Tu-134 was displayed at the Paris Air Show.

From 1972, Aeroflot began placing the Tu-134 in domestic service to Baku, Yerevan, Kyiv, Kishinev, Krasnodar, Leningrad, Omsk, Riga, and Sochi from Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow.

In its early years, the Tu-134 developed a reputation for reliability and efficiency, especially when compared with previous Soviet designs. After the establishment of tougher noise standards in the ICAO regulations in 2002, the Tu-134 was banned from most western European airports for its high noise levels. In early 2006, 245 Tu-134s were still in operation, 162 of which were in Russia. After a fatal accident in March 2007, and at the instigation of Russian Minister of Transportation Igor Levitin, Aeroflot announced that it would be retiring its fleet, and the last Tu-134 was removed from service on 1 January 2008. Some were still in operations with Aeroflot subsidiaries on local routes within Russia. The Tu-134 also found a new life as a business jet with many having an expensive business interior installed. High fuel and maintenance costs are increasingly limiting the number used today.

In June 2011, as a response to RusAir Flight 9605 which resulted in 47 fatalities, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev ordered preparations for taking the Tu-134 out of use by 2012.

On 22 May 2019, the final passenger flight of the Tu-134 in Russia took place.[4]

Many Tu-134s have been preserved as memorials at airports throughout the former Soviet Union. A former Malév Tu-134A (registration HA-LBE) is on display at the Aeropark at Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport[5] in Hungary.

Variants

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Tu-134
The glass-nosed version. The first series could seat up to 64 passengers, and this was later increased to 72 passengers. The original designation was Tu-124A.
Tupolev Tu-134A with its radar and glass nose
Tu-134UBL "Volga" from 1449th Airbase in Tambov city
Tu-134A
Second series, with upgraded engines, improved avionics, seating up to 84 passengers. All Tu-134A variants have been built with the distinctive glass nose and chin radar dome, but some were modified to the B standard with the radar moved to the nose radome.
Tu-134A-2
The glass nose was replaced.
Tu-134A-3
Second series, powered by two updated Soloviev D-30 turbofan engines.
Tu-134A-5
Most recent version.
Tu-134B
Second series, 80 seats, radar moved to the nose radome, eliminating the glazed nose. Some Tu-134B models have long-range fuel tanks fitted under the fuselage; these are visible as a sizable bulge.
Tu-134BV
Space shuttle work model.
Tu-134LK
Cosmonaut training version.
Tu-134A of the Hungarian People's Republic at Helsinki Vantaa Airport in 1978.
Tu-134M
Projected modernized version of Tu-134B, powered by Progress D-436T1-134 engines.
Tu-134S
Projected cargo version based on Tu-134A.
Tu-134UBL
Tu-160 crew training version, with Tu-160 nose cone.
Tu-134UBK
Naval version of Tu-134UBL. Only one was ever built.
Tu-134BSh
Tu-22M crew trainer, fitted with a Tu-22M radar in the nose.
Tu-134Sh-1
Crew trainer with bomb racks for heavy bomber crews
Tu-134Sh-2
navigator trainer for tactical bomber crews
Tu-134SKh
Crop survey version.

Current operators

Current civil operators

As of 2022, just two Tupolev Tu-134s remain in civil passenger airline service worldwide:[6]

 Syria
 Ukraine

Former operators

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The following airlines, states and other entities at one point operated at least one Tu-134 aircraft:

Former civil operators

 Soviet Union/ Russia
Afghanistan Afghanistan
Albania Albania
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan
 Bulgaria
 Czechoslovakia
 Estonia
 Georgia
 Hungary
 Kazakhstan
 Kyrgyzstan
 Lithuania
 Moldova
 Peru
 Poland
 East Germany
 Russia
 Syria
 Romania
 Ukraine
 Vietnam
 Yugoslavia/ Serbia

Former military operators

 Angola
People's Air and Air Defence Force of Angola[11]
 Armenia
Armenian Air Force – 1 stored
 Belarus
Belarus Air Force
 Bulgaria
Bulgarian Air Force
 Czech Republic
Czech Air Force
 Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovak Air Force – Passed on to successor states
 Germany
German Air Force – former operator, taken over from East German Air Force after German reunification
 Georgia
Georgian Air Force
 East Germany
East German Air Force
 Moldova
Moldovan Air Force
 North Korea
North Korean Air Force
 Poland
Polish Air Force. Operated 2 from 1972 to 1977 (later LOT) and 2 from 1977 to 1992. Retired, replaced by 2 Tupolev Tu-154M.
 Soviet Union

 Syria

Accidents and incidents

Main article: List of accidents and incidents involving the Tupolev Tu-134

Specifications (Tu-134A)

Data from OKB Tupolev,[12] OAO Tupolev[13]

General characteristics

Performance

See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists

References

  1. ^ http://aeroflotarchives.com/tupolev-tu-134.html Archived 27 July 2020 at the Wayback Machine Cites first revenue flight, Accessed 15 April 2019
  2. ^ a b Ту-134. russianplanes.net (in Russian). Archived from the original on 4 September 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  3. ^ "T134". SKYbrary Aviation Safety. 8 March 2021. Archived from the original on 6 May 2022. Retrieved 6 May 2022.
  4. ^ Ту-134 отправился в заключительный пассажирский рейс в России [Tu-134 went to the final passenger flight in Russia] (in Russian). 22 May 2019. Archived from the original on 26 May 2019. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Aeropark Budapest Repülőmúzeum". aeropark.hu. Archived from the original on 27 March 2019. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  6. ^ "✈ russianplanes.net ✈ наша авиация" [Tu-134 Registry]. russianplanes.net (in Russian). Archived from the original on 28 December 2022. Retrieved 28 December 2022.
  7. ^ a b Kingsley-Jones 2002, p. 54
  8. ^ "Aviation Safety Network – Imperial Air Peru". Archived from the original on 3 November 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
  9. ^ "Meridian Airline's website". meridian-avia.com (in Russian and British English). Retrieved 22 April 2019.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Aviogenex Archived 8 August 2020 at the Wayback Machine at rzjets.com, retrieved 13-12-2014
  11. ^ Fontanellaz, Cooper & Matos 2020, p. 23
  12. ^ Gordon, Yefim; Rigmant, Vladimir; Boyd, Alexander (2005). OKB Tupolev : a history of the design bureau and its aircraft. Hinkley: Midland. pp. 248–246. ISBN 1857802144.
  13. ^ "Tupolev Tu-134". Archived from the original on 15 May 2006. Retrieved 10 May 2006.
  14. ^ Lednicer, David. "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage". m-selig.ae.illinois.edu. Archived from the original on 5 September 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2019.

Sources