Today marks the end of an aviation era, as the last commercial Tu-154 operated its last commercial flight in Russia. The Tu-154 was used extensively throughout the soviet sphere and well into the 21st century, but now the only place it will be mentioned is in the history books.
“We are saddened to announce the end of operations of the only remaining Tu-154 aircraft in Russia’s civil aviation,” Alrosa said in a statement.
Where was its final flight?
The Tu-154, tail number RA-85757, flew its final leg between Mirny to Novosibirsk carrying 140 passengers.
While a pretty remote domestic route, this is actually where this aircraft excelled. The plane was just shy of its 29th year of operation and had been slugging through these remote routes through rail, hail, and shine. The plane was operated by Alrosa Mirny Air Enterprise, a sister company to the large Russian mining company Alrosa, for its remote site routes.
You might recall that fellow Tu-154 aircraft RA-85684, also operated by Alrosa, performed a controlled emergency landing in a remote airstrip in Siberia with all 80 passengers walking away unharmed. A further testament to the Russian engineering of this aircraft.
You can watch the final takeoff below.
Farewell to the era as Russia’s last civil Tu-154 performs its final regular flight. Pilots Alexander Leshkevich & Nikolai Voroshilov safely brought 28 year old Alrosa Airlines RA-85757 plane from Mirny in Yakutia to Novosibirsk #Tu154 pic.twitter.com/Oc4fC8XqVw
— The Siberian Times (@siberian_times) October 28, 2020
Why is it being withdrawn from service?
The plane itself is actually leaving operation due to its service certificate expiring. Instead of overhauling the various 30-year-old parts, the carrier has decided to retire the airframe and order two new variants instead.
On its order books are two Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft, and three Irkut MC-21-300s when they arrive on the market (although when that will be is anyone’s guess). In the meantime, the airline will operate its small fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft as replacement aircraft.
The original plane will remain at Novosibirsk airport until either sold onwards (perhaps to a developing country in need of a cheap airframe), scrapped (but not for parts as there are no others in operating), or sent to a museum.
Why is the Tu-154 special?
Tupolev, the manufacturer of the Tu-154, ended production in 2013. The aircraft was an incredibly popular and versatile platform with over 1,025 built since 1968. It has been compared extensively to the Boeing 727 (they look very similar), and you can read our comparison article here.
“A whole era of national aircraft construction is ending with this legendary aircraft,” the airline added in the original statement.
There are other Tu-154 aircraft still flying globally by private operators, but this was the last one operating a regularly scheduled route.
What do you think? Have you flown on this aircraft? Let us know in the comments.