Goodbye legend: how Tu-134 will be remembered
The Alrosa-owned Tu-134 aircraft made its last commercial flight from Irkutsk to Mirny and should now be an exhibit at the Novosibirsk Museum of Aviation and Cosmonautics. It was the last of the aircraft of this type operated in Russia for commercial purposes. A few more Tu-134 special versions are on the balance of the Ministry of Defense and will be operated for some time.
Initially, the Tupolev Design Bureau planned to carry out a deep modernization of the Tu-124, extending the fuselage and moving the engine from the base of the wing to the rear of the fuselage. In Soviet times, there was a semi-legend that General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev liked the French Caravelle so much that he almost demanded to make a passenger plane with rear engines.
The first flight of the Tu-124A took place on July 29, 1963, and in November of the same year the aircraft was renamed into Tu-134, because instead of a deep modernization, it actually turned out to be a new machine, similar to its predecessor with only a few elements. The Tu-134 became the first Soviet second-generation jet airliner, and it was he who was destined to transport millions of passengers in the coming decades. And not only in the USSR, but also in other countries. He also became the first Soviet airliner to receive a certificate of airworthiness for an aircraft type.
The release of the Tu-134 was organized in Kharkov, where on July 21, 1966 the first production aircraft was assembled. Looking ahead, it should be said that by the time serial production ceases in 1984, Kharkov Aircraft Plant will produce 854 airliners, 134 of which will be exported. For comparison, the French Caravelle, so liked by Khrushchev, was released in the amount of only 282 pieces. Also, looking ahead, it is worth bringing another figure: by the time of the collapse of the USSR, Tu-134 will carry more than 500 million passengers.
At the time of its birth, the Tu-134, although it had a number of progressive solutions, but had drawbacks. D-30 engines did not have a reverse, passenger capacity also did not meet the requirements for a modern aircraft, therefore already by 1970 a modification of the Tu-134A was launched with an extended fuselage, which increased to 76 seats, and the D-30 engines received a reverse mode. In 1980, serial production of an even more advanced version of the Tu-134B began, in which the crew was reduced to three people - two pilots and a flight mechanic, passenger capacity increased by four places, in addition, more modern flight and navigation equipment was installed in the cockpit.
Passenger air transportation in the USSR has grown rapidly since the beginning of the sixties of the last century. For example, if 42 million passengers were transported in 1965, in just ten years, by 1975, this figure had more than doubled, to 98 million. The lion's share of all air transportation was in the Tu-134, which served short-range routes - not more than 2100 km. Nearly one and a half hundred cars worked in other countries, recording additional tens of thousands of passengers transported to the Tu-134 account.
For its time, the Tu-134 was a very successful aircraft: the maximum take-off weight was 47, 600 kg, payload - 8, 200 kg, passenger capacity from 76 to 80 people, cruising speed - 850 km / h, practical ceiling - 11, 000 meters. In some respects it was inferior to Western competitors, in some respects superior, but most importantly, it fully met the requirements of the main operator - Aeroflot Airlines, which operated the Tu-134 from August 1967 to January 2008. That is more than forty years.
In the last years of operation, the Tu-134 was losing out more and more to Western liners in terms of noise, environmental friendliness and commercial efficiency, but this did not prevent it from entering the history of both domestic and world aviation, having established itself as an honest working jet horse. Over the decades, he transported hundreds of millions of passengers, which to a large extent contributed to the development of Soviet passenger air travel. And in other countries the plane left its wake, and not only in aviation. It is enough to recall at least the Bulgarian Tu-134 cigarettes, which are very popular in the USSR. Unfortunately, the Tu-134 successor, Tu-334, was not put into mass production for several reasons, although it had every chance of becoming the same honest working “horse” as the ancestor.