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Home News Russia’s Tu-154 plane: a history of accidents

Russia’s Tu-154 plane: a history of accidents

Published on 25/12/2016

The Tupolev aircraft maker's Tu-154, the type of plane that crashed Sunday in the Black Sea with 92 people on board, is an ageing Russian workhorse whose record is plagued with accidents.

Although Russian commercial airlines are no longer known to use the plane — which first flew in 1972 and went out of production in 1994 — it is still used by the military.

In spite of the tragedy, Russia’s Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov told local news agencies Sunday that permanently retiring all Tu-154 aircraft would be “premature.”

Similar in size and performance to a Boeing 737, with a range of 4,000 kilometres (2,500 miles), the Tu-154 can carry between 155 and 180 passengers at a cruising speed of 850 kilometres an hour.

Russia has experienced several accidents involving the plane, including some that date back to the 1990s.

On January 1, 2011, a Tu-154B belonging to a commercial airline burst into flames before take-off on a runway at an airport in Russia’s Far North. Three people were killed and more than 30 injured in the incident, which led to some of the planes being grounded.

On December 4, 2014, a Tu-154 passenger plane broke apart after rolling off the runway at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, killing two people.

On April 10, 2010, a Tu-154 carrying Polish president Lech Kaczynski and other top Polish officials came down in fog near the Russian city of Smolensk, and all 96 people on board perished.

The delegation was heading to a ceremony in Russia’s Katyn forest for thousands of Polish army officers killed by Soviet secret police in 1940 — a massacre the Kremlin had denied until 1990.

In July 2009, a Tu-154 belonging to the Iranian company Caspian Airlines crashed in northern Iran, killing all 168 on board.

In August 2006, a Tupolev of the Russian Pulkovo airline crashed in Ukraine after trying to fly above a storm, killing 170 people.

In February 2012, a Tu-154 on an Iranian domestic flight crashed in the southwest of the country, killing 117.

Other major accidents involving the Tu-154 were in July 2001 in the Siberian city of Irkutsk, with 145 dead, and in August 1996 on the Norwegian island of Spitzbergen, killing 141.