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Tupolev Tu-154 (Careless)


Commercial Passenger Airliner


Soviet Union | 1972



"The Tupolev Tu-154 has had a tainted service record since its inception - a mix of crew errors, stresses of harsh operating environments and accidents."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 01/24/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Tupolev concern of Russia holds an aviation history dating as far back as 1926, having since established a name in large military and commercial aircraft designs. To supply the latter with a new medium-ranged hauler (replacing several outgoing turboprop models), Tupolev assumed a three-turbofan-engined, low monoplane wing design comparable to Western offerings of the time. The three engines were held in the aft-section of the fuselage, a configuration popular during the 1960s and 1970s, and design work on the type preceded its first flight, this recorded on October 4th, 1968. After passing trials and gaining the required certifications, the new design emerged as the Tu-154 with production beginning in 1968 and spanning until 2011. Deliveries from Tupolev to awaiting carriers began in 1970 to which formal introduction was in 1972, this with Aeroflot. 1,025 examples were ultimately produced and this breed stocked some 21 airlines during her operational tenure. Today, roughly 100 are still flying, impressive considering the type's inception over 40 years ago. Upon recognition from the West, NATO observers christened the aircraft the "Careless".

Unlike Western airliner types, the Tu-154 was specifically designed for very rigorous conditions and for navigating the broad and unforgiving airspaces common to the then-Soviet frontier. The undercarriage was reinforced for operations from rough airfields while the body was developed to content with freezing conditions of the north. Since maintenance facilities in more rural areas of the country would offer little to no service for the aircraft, the Tu-154 was designed to operate for long periods of time before requiring a scheduled overhaul. Such stresses undoubtedly caused several of the 39 published accidents involving the Tu-154 series during its service life. Other factors usually centered around pilot/crew errors and accidents.

Design of the Tu-154 was conventional with a slim, tubular fuselage, forward-set cockpit, low-mounted swept main wing assemblies and a high-mounted Tee-style tailplane atop a vertical fin. All three engines were concentrated to the rear of the design with two straddling the vertical fin and the third buried at its frontal base (running from the fuselage spine). The sides of the fuselage were appropriately dotted with rectangular windows for passenger viewing. There were four rectangular access doors to either fuselage side for quick embarking/disembarking of passengers. Cargo was stored in the deck beneath the passenger seating area. The flight crew sat well-forward in the design with good views over the nose through a framed window set. The vehicle traveled along the ground view a tricycle undercarriage that consisted of two main landing gear legs and a nose leg. The main legs were of note for their multi-wheeled design, wheels numbering six in all. The nose leg was conventional with a two wheel set. Internally. the Tu-154 was arranged to carry approximately 164 passengers. Outwardly, the Tu-154 was highly comparable to the American Boeing 727 series and the British Hawker Siddeley Trident models - both appearing prior to the Tupolev design.

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Over the course of its life, the Tu-154 family of aircraft has seen an appropriate helping of variants. The initial production model was known simply as the "Tu-154" with seating for 164 with 42 examples being built in all. An upgraded form then appeared to become the Tu-154A which added additional internal fuel stores, exit doors and multiple interior configurations to suit carrier requirements. The engines were uprated Kuznetsovs. The Tu-154B brought about use of new, stronger wings due to fractures that began emerging in the preceding production models then in service. Additional fuel storage, exit doors and passenger seated was also introduced. The Tu-154B became the new Tu-154 standard to which the preceding marks were upgraded to when possible. A slightly differing Tu-154B form followed, this as the Tu-154B-1 with improved avionics, comforts and undercarriage with seating for 160 passengers. 64 of this subvariant were delivered. The Tu-154B-2 was similar and increased seating to 180 passengers with the loss of the onboard kitchen facility. 311 of this type were produced in all. The Tu-154S was a cargo-hauler conversion model with revised internals. Nine were converted from existing Tu-154 and Tu-154B models. The Tu-154M was a modernized variant appearing in 1982 with Soloviev D-30KU-154 series turbofans. Performance and operational ranges were both improved. The Tu-154M-LK-1 was a VIP model converted for astronaut (cosmonaut) training. The Tu-154M-ON was a one-off observation platform utilized by East Germany, lost to accident in 1997. The Tu-154M-100 was the last offered modernized mark first appearing in 1998. These three examples were differentiated by their Western-type avionics and seating for 157 and delivered to Slovakia for a time.

Early Tu-154 marks were powered by the Kuznetsov NK-8 series turbofan engines while later, more modern marks, appeared with the Soloviev D-30 series turbofan. Maximum take-off weight (MTOW) and range were improved between the two designs while maximum speeds and service ceilings reamined comparable.

Use of the Tu-154 inevitably went beyond civilian carrier hands with operations conducted at the government level for some. The type also gained a foothold in the lucrative military market where it served the air forces of Armenia, Bulgaria, China, Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic, Cuba, East Germany/Germany (reunified), North Korea, Poland, Mongolia, Russia/Soviet Union, Turkmenistan , Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

The a recent high profile crash involving a Tu-154 occurred on October 4th, 2010 when aircraft 101 - carrying Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his cabinet - crashed on final approach, killing all on board. One of the deadliest crashed was CCCP-85311 on October 7th, 1985, which stalled and crashed due to pilot error and an overloaded plane - 200 souls were lost. The most recent published incident was on January 1st, 2011 when RA-85588 caught fire during taxiing, resulting in an explosion and death of three of the 124 persons on board.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Tupolev Tu-154M (Careless) Commercial Passenger Airliner.
3 x Soloviev D-30KU-154 turbofan engines delivering 23,148lbs of thrust each.
Propulsion
590 mph
950 kph | 513 kts
Max Speed
39,698 ft
12,100 m | 8 miles
Service Ceiling
4,101 miles
6,600 km | 3,564 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Tupolev Tu-154M (Careless) Commercial Passenger Airliner.
4
(MANNED)
Crew
157.5 ft
48.00 m
O/A Length
123.2 ft
(37.55 m)
O/A Width
37.4 ft
(11.40 m)
O/A Height
121,916 lb
(55,300 kg)
Empty Weight
229,281 lb
(104,000 kg)
MTOW
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
RANGE
ALT
SPEED
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the Tupolev Tu-154 (Careless) family line.
Tu-154 - Initial production model; seating for 164; 42 examples produced.
Tu-154A - Improved Tu-154 model; increased internal fuel and emergency exit doors; uprated engines; seating for up to 152.
Tu-154B - Revised Tu-154/Tu-154A due to wing fractures encountered; new revised wing assemblies; increased internal fuel volume; increased ranges; 111 produced.
Tu-154B-1 - Based on the Tu-154B; seating for 160; revised avionics; 64 examples produced.
Tu-154B-2 - Modernized Tu-154B-1; seating for 180 sans galley; 311 examples produced.
Tu-154S - Cargo Hauling Variant of the Tu-154B; 9 examples converted from existing Tu-154/Tu-154B production models.
Tu-154M - Modernized Tu-154 appearing in 1984; switch to Soloviev D-30 turbofan engines; improved range; 320 examples delivered.
Tu-154M-LK-1 - modified Tu-154 VIP model for use as cosmonaut trainer.
Tu-154M-ON (Monitoring Aircraft) - Observation platform converted from Tu-154 for East German Air Force; lost to accident in 1997.
Tu-154M-100 - Improved/modernized Tu-154 variant; appearing in 1998; Western avionics; seating for 157.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Tupolev Tu-154 (Careless). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 1,025 Units

Contractor(s): Tupolev - Soviet Union / Russia
National flag of Afghanistan National flag of Albania National flag of Armenia National flag of Azerbaijan National flag of Bulgaria National flag of China National flag of Cuba National flag of Czechia National flag of Egypt National flag of Georgia National flag of modern Germany National flag of East Germany National flag of Hungary National flag of Iran National flag of Kazakhstan National flag of Kyrgyzstan National flag of Libya National flag of Macedonia National flag of Mongolia National flag of Nicaragua National flag of North Korea National flag of Pakistan National flag of Poland National flag of Romania National flag of Russia National flag of Slovakia National flag of the Soviet Union National flag of Somalia National flag of Syria National flag of Turkey National flag of Turkmenistan National flag of Ukraine National flag of Uzbekistan National flag of Yemen

[ Afghanistan; Albania; Armenia; Azerbaijan; Bulgaria; China; Cuba; Czechoslovakia; Czech Republic; Djibouti; East Germany; Egypt; Georgia; Germany; Hungary; Iran; Kazakhstan; Kyrgyzstan; Libya; Macedonia; Moldova; Mongolia; Nicaragua; North Korea; Pakistan; Poland; Romania; Russia; Somalia; Soviet Union; Slovakia; Syria; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; Uzbekistan; Yemen ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (590mph).

Graph Average of 563 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
1025
36183
44000
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
EarlyYrs
WWI
Interwar
WWII
ColdWar
Postwar
Modern
Future
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Image of the Tupolev Tu-154 (Careless)
Image from the Russian Ministry of Defense; Public Release.
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Image of the Tupolev Tu-154 (Careless)
Image from the Russian Ministry of Defense; Public Release.
3 / 6
Image of the Tupolev Tu-154 (Careless)
Image from the U.S. Department of Defense imagery database; Public Release.
4 / 6
Image of the Tupolev Tu-154 (Careless)
Image from the U.S. Department of Defense imagery database; Public Release.
5 / 6
Image of the Tupolev Tu-154 (Careless)
Image from the U.S. Department of Defense imagery database; Public Release.
6 / 6
Image of the Tupolev Tu-154 (Careless)
Image from the U.S. Department of Defense imagery database; Public Release.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
TRANSPORT
COMMERCIAL AVIATION
RECONNAISSANCE
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Tupolev Tu-154 (Careless) Commercial Passenger Airliner appears in the following collections:
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