MIAMI – Today in Aviation, the prototype Russian-built Tupolev TU-134 (SSSR-45075) made its maiden flight in 1963.

Aeroflot (SU) was looking for a replacement for its aging Ilyushin II-14s. Tupolev then decided to upgrade its TU-124 with the prototype initially designated the TU-124A.

Following redesigns to the engines and T-tail, the model was named the TU-134 on November 20, 1963. Mass production of the type began at Tupolev’s Kharkov Aviation Production Association in 1966. 

Pictured at Pisa International Airport, Aeroflot TU-134A CCCP-65972 entered service with the airline in 1973. (Photo: Piergiuliano Chesi, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

International Operations


The 56-seat TU-134 entered passenger service with SU in September 1967, operating a domestic flight from Moscow to Adler. It became the first Soviet airliner to be certified by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), allowing the type to be flown internationally. Its first international flight took place on September 12, 1967, from Moscow to Stockholm.

The airliner then became a regular sight at European airports. LOT Polish Airlines, Malév Hungarian Airlines, and Interflug all purchased the type in 1968. 

Tupolev went on to build a stretched 72-seat variant dubbed the TU-134A which first flew on April 22, 1969. The final upgraded version the TU-134B, capable of carrying 96 passengers was developed in 1980.

Interflug introduced the TU-134 in 1969, becoming the first jet-powered airliner operated by the East German carrier. (Photo: Tim Rees (GFDL 1.2 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html or GFDL 1.2 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html), via Wikimedia Commons)

Retirement


However, as stricter noise regulations were introduced in 2002, the TU-134 was banned from most EU airports. Aeroflot retired its last example on January 1, 2008. Eleven years later the type made its final flight in Russia on May 22, 2019.

854 models were built, making the TU-134 one of the most popular Russian produced airliners.

Aeroflot became the largest operator of the type, flying over 600 before its retirement in 2008. (Photo: Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Featured image: The prototype Tupolev Tu-134 took to the skies for the first time in 1963. Photo: English: Aleksandr MarkinРусский: Александр Маркин, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons