MOSCOW, January 1 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s flagship air carrier Aeroflot said Tuesday it had completed the operation of the Tu-134 aircraft. Aeroflot’s board approved a program in February 2007 to gradually replace the airline’s Tu-134 fleet with modern aircraft.
The last flight of the Tu-134 was performed on December 31 from Russia’s Western exclave of Kaliningrad to Moscow, Aeroflot said.
All 14 Tu-134 planes in the Aeroflot fleet will be replaced by new-generation aircraft, especially the promising Russian Sukhoi SuperJet-100 short-range plane, whose delivery is expected to begin in late 2008, and medium-range A319 and A320 airbuses, the Russian air carrier said.
The Tupolev Tu-134 (NATO codename: Crusty) is a Soviet twin-engined airliner, similar to the American Douglas DC-9. One of the most used aircraft in the former Warsaw Pact countries, the number in active service is decreasing because of noise restrictions. 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 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 the noisy 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 of 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. Probably this is why state owned Aeroflot’s board made exactly this decision.