DALLAS – Today in Aviation, the Tupolev Tu-204 operated its maiden flight in 1989. The airliner was designed as a family of aircraft serving several purposes, including passenger, cargo, combi and quick-change variants.
The initial version, the -100 series, was powered by Soloviev PS90 turbofans and was certified in January 1995. It entered service with launch customer Aeroflot (SU) in February 1996. The Russian flag carrier had tasked Tupolev with creating a replacement for its Tu-154 trijet.
During the test and certification program, Tupolev wished to produce a variant suitable for westernised operations. It joined forces with Rolls Royce and developed the RB211-535-powered Tu-204-120, which first flew on August 14, 1992.
Other versions of the Tu-204 include the -200, which has a higher max take-off weight, more fuel and a greater range. Tupolev also built the -300, which has a shorter fuselage and longer range. This was introduced by Vladivostok Air (XF). A cargo version was first launched in November 1998 and delivered to its launch customer Cairo Aviation.
There is also the Tu-214 which is technically a -200 variant but produced by the Kazan Aircraft Production Association (KAPO). It has additional doors compared to the baseline Tu-204 and higher gross weight.
The United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) is currently relaunching the type to replace Russia’s Boeing and Airbus fleets that have been impacted by international sanctions placed in Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine.
SU ordered 40 of the Tu-214 with deliveries until 2030. It is expected to receive its first example this year, with the first airframes already in production. SU has created a working group to prepare for the type’s arrival and has begun to train pilots on its operations.
Featured Image: The shortened Tu-204-300. Photo: Lorenzo Giacobbo/Airways.