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TU-154M Medium-haul aircraft

Since May 25, 1975 the chief designer on the aircraft Tu-154 was A.S. Shengardt, who led the entire complex of works connected with the improvement Tu-154, including the creation of large modification - aircraft Tu-154M in 1984, and cargo version with the large side door - Tu-154S. In 1988 the decision of the Council of Ministers of USSR accepted to the supply main passenger aircraft Tu-154M with the engines DZOKU-154 of the 2nd series.

Aircraft Tu-154M was created in accordance with the government decision dated August 9, 1978. The basic task of modernization was improvement in the economic indices in the operation, due to reduction in the fuel consumptions. The posed problem was solved due to the introduction of of more economical TRDD (turbofan engine) of the type D-30KU-154 with the new reverse device of the ladle type (takeoff thrust 10500 kG, the specific consumption of fuel under cruising conditions of flight 0,71-0,74 kg/kgf ch), the improvement in particular aerodynamics of the elements of the aircraft.

Production Tu-154 with the engines NK-8-2u continued to 1985. The research of improved version of TU-154 aircraft equipped with more economic engine, started in 1981-1982. The first name of aircraft was TU-164. The first flight of test airplane was done in 1982. New engines passed checking on one of Tu-154B at the beginning of the 1980's. On July 16, 1984 crew, headed by the test pilot OF [A].[I]. [Talalakinym], completed the first flight in the first series machine Tu-154M, soon began the full-scale carrying out of new modification. Serial production started in 1984 at Samara aircraft. Before TU-204 the aircraft TU-154M was one of the most economic Russian passenger aircraft. It is one of few domestic passenger aircrafts delivered for export.

On the production aircraft Tu-154[M] are established the improved engines D-30KU-154 of 2 ser. the layout of the passenger cabins of aircraft it was carried out in the following versions of layouts: in the economic class in 176 passenger places without the central of kitchen- canteen; in the tourist class in 164 places with the central by the kitchen- canteen, which can be converted under operating conditions into the version in 154 places with the separate salon of the 1st class to 8 passengers. The number of packages of the 1st class could be increased to 24-X. Fuel effectiveness Tu-154M in comparison with Tu-154B was improved to 10-20% with the flying range to 3000 km and to 30-60% with the flying range of more than 3000 km.

The series plant in Samara constructed more than 300 aircraft Tu-154M, of them 98 were sent abroad. The aircraft is equipped with usual avionics complex with electromechanical indication facilities, developed by domestic aircrafts designers. The structure of a flight piloting complex includes the automated control system ABSU-154, radio navigation system "Omega" and airplane collision warning system TCAS. Engines: RDD-KU-154 (3 x 10500 kg/s) the noise Level corresponds to ICAO norms. Serial production since 1984.

In 1996-1997 it was planned to begin production of upgraded TU-154M-2 with use of a digital avionics complex and the improved fuel profitability on 20%. In the 1980s the designers worked for use of cryogenic fuel in passenger aircrafts. Modifications of TU-154M and TU-156M were developed. They made flight tests of the experimental airplane TU-155 with engine TRDD NK-88 working on cryogenic fuel, liquid natural gas and methane.

Russian aviation plant Aviakor ceased the production of Tupolev Tu-154Ms in mid-2006after fulfilling the last orders for building three of the type. In June 2006, regional operator Kuban Airlines received a newly assembled tri-jet and took one more in July 2006. Aviakor general manager Sergei Liharev said the airframer has also completed assembly of the Tu-154M ordered by the government of Samara region. From now on, well only provide maintenance and overhaul services for these aircraft, hundreds of which are still in service, he says. Currently we have ten Tu-154s under repair. At the same time, Aviakor was gearing up for serial production of the Antonov An-140 twin turboprop with three aircraft due to be rolled out this year.

In December 2006 the TU-154M was recognized by "Aeroflot Russian Airlines" company to be one of the best airplanes of the XX-th century. Such high appreciation was expressed by Mr. Vladimir Antonov Deputy Director of "Aeroflot" at Flight and Technical Conference devoted to operation of said aircraft by the company. The conference was attended by representatives of Ministries and Authorities, Design Bureaus, Industrial Institutes and Companies of Aviation Industry. This type of aerial vehicles is the most popular in "Aeroflot" fleet (25 units are the company's own airplanes and 3 units in leasing). According to Antonov " 35% of all flights of the company are performed by these airplanes." He believes that the most important event was the transfer to "on-condition" maintenance.

"It is too early to speak about finalizing TU-154 a/c operation", - stated Mr. Antonov. According to his estimation these airplanes will start to be discarded after serving out their service life which falls on the year 2010.

The airplane was successfully certified tot international Airworthiness Standards which allowed "Aeroflot" to join the "Sky-team" international alliance. "Aeroflot" realizes fuel efficiency improvement program for this airplane. Thus due to wing tips installation fuel efficiency became 1.7%. Wooden floor replacement for honey-comb structures made it possible to reduce the airplane weight by 600 kg which also reduces fuel consumption. From 25 airplanes 12 units have been up graded already. Additionally the more efficient cruising mode was introduced. In this mode the third engine is set for idling while two others engines increase their thrust. "Introduction of this program resulted in saving money in the amount of millions dollars",- said "Aeroflot" representative and highlighted active participation of "Tupolev" PSC in the program and personally Mr. A. Shengardt - Chief Designer of TU-154 a/c.

Tu-154M-100: Upgraded Zhasmin (Jasmine) avionics system and new Aviacor interior furnishings; 12 ordered by Iranian airlines in 1997; delivered to Iran Air Tours (nine) and Bon Air (three) in 1997-98 from surplus former Aeroflot aircraft, despite which Aviacor was still optimistic in 1998 of up to 10 new-build orders from Iran. Zhasmin includes GPS and collision-avoidance radar, and bestows Cat. II landing capability.

Tu-154-200: Projected version with two Samara NK-93 turbofans.

Tu-154M-LK-1: Two aircraft for head-of-state use.

Tu-154M2: Modernised, twin-engined version; Perm/Soloviev PS-90A turbofans, consuming 62 per cent as much fuel per passenger as Tu-154M. Intended originally to fly 1995, but apparently abandoned. Life 20,000 hours or 15,000 cycles.

Tu-154 Retrofit: In 1998, Rybinsk Motors was promoting the CFM56 turbofan as a re-engine option.

Tu-154M/OS: Version for Russian `Open Skies' Treaty observation flights, with side-looking synthetic aperture radar developed under 1995 co-operative agreement between German Ministry of Defence and Defence Ministry of the Russian Federation. Russian designation Tu-154M-ON (otkrytoye nebo: open skies). Sole aircraft is RA-85655, a former Tu-154M-LK-1. Additional duties can include environmental monitoring, ice patrol, mapping and geological survey. Radar developed by Kulon Russian research institute and Dornier GmbH of Germany, but installation plans terminated prior to this being fitted. See Jane's Aircraft Upgrades for more details.

Tu-154M Elint: First four of reported 12 ex-airline aircraft entered service by 1999 with Nanjing Military Region, China, following modification by military upgrade plant at Nan Yuan, Beijing.

Russian air carriers have to pay double the price of Russian planes for their Western counterparts. Only large and sufficiently solvent companies will be able to afford it, but they will save on operational costs. For example, the Tu-154M needs 2.5 metric tons of fuel more an hour than a Boeing 737. As a result, fuel accounts for 20-22% of the cost of an airplane ticket in the West and for 45% in Russia, and this with the constant growth of global oil prices! Saving on fuel makes flights more profitable and allows opening new routes that at least break even.

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