Browsing Tag: Tupolev TU-154

Our chariot, EY-85748, on the ground at Minsk National Airport. - Photo : Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Our chariot, EW-85748, on the ground at Minsk National Airport – Photo : Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

From the [AR]vault: This story was originally published on June 8, 2015.

The Tupelov Tu-154 is a classic airliner that many AvGeeks admire, but unfortunately it will no longer be able to fly with-in continental Europe. I was lucky enough to snag a seat on the last flight, a Tu-154M on Belavia to Minsk (MSQ).

You see, many in Europe were getting upset with the rare Soloviev D-30 engine gracing their passenger airports. The noise and the environmental impact did not make many friends. It is too bad, because it’s not like the 737-800 is replacing the Tu-154M on a one-to-one basis with every airline operating them at a speed comparable to that of light anyway. Why even bother other than to make a point?

My friend, who happens to divide his time between Paris and Minsk, runs an aviation enthusiast tour company and asked if I wanted to join a group to give the Tu-154 a send-off from Europe. I packed my things and ended up in Geneva (GVA) on May 29th, 2015.

An Air Koryo Tu-154B-2 parked on the ramp at FNJ. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.

An Air Koryo Tu-154B-2 parked on the ramp at FNJ – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

I have a strange and obsessive love for the Tupolev Tu-154. How obsessive, you ask? Well, take a look at my model cabinet. That’s right. I own every possible Tu-154 model out there. I even have a few custom ones on order.

No one can say I don't love the Tu-154. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

No one can say I don’t love the Tu-154 – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

I seek out 154s to fly on; I have three lined up this year.

So, what makes this plane so awesome? Well, I was going to do an article last year about what it was like to fly on an 154M, but then Jacob flew on a better M on almost the same day. So we’ll have to wait for the 154Bs later this year (the older, rarer version of the 154).

Until then, let’s discuss the history of this aircraft.

The Slovak Government Tupolev Tu-154M  Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

The Slovak Government Tupolev Tu-154M – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Not too many opportunities exist in this day and age where one can still take flight on a classic Russian aircraft, let alone in a VIP configuration. Recently, I was fortunate enough to be invited to take part in a  flight onboard a Slovak Government Flying Service (SSG) Tupolev TU-154M. For me, this would be my first-ever flight on a Russian aircraft, and to say I was excited would be an understatement.

Time to board my first Russian aircraft Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Time to board my first Russian aircraft – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

The flight would be an empty ferry sector from Prague-Bratislava, a short 40-minute hop, but I knew I would savor every minute. SSG presently has four aircraft in its fleet, but only three are in operational service. The fleet consists of two Tupolev TU-154Ms (reg numbers OM-BYO and OM-BYR), with the latter being used for spare parts.

The remaining two aircraft are Yakovlev YAK-40s (reg numbers OM-BYE and OM-BYL). The Slovak Government not only carries out various head of state and other VIP missions, it also participates in various humanitarian and troop-carrying missions on behalf of the Slovak Government.