The Tupolev Tu-154 was a rugged and effective aircraft for the often primitive operating environment found at many Soviet-era airports, especially during the Russian winter. However by the early 2000s the type was obsolete, although lack of funds and high tariffs on importing Western equipment kept the later TU-154Ms in service well beyond their use by dates, even with Aeroflot. That was a big bonus for enthusiasts as the type was one of only two Russian aircraft (the other is the IL-96), until the recent Sukhoi Superjet, to get into the beautiful 2003 era colours of the national airline and its affiliates.
The M version of the TU-154 entered mass production in 1984 and had much improved operating costs due to new Soloviev D-30KU-154 turbofan engines and aerodynamic refinements. It also has a relocated APU and new double-slatted flaps. About 320 were manufactured up till as late as 2006 and the type formed the backbone of the deregulated Russian airline fleet in the 90 and early 2000s. Aeroflot continued to operate the type until December 31st 2009 when the last flight SU736 was made between Yekaterinburg and Moscow. RA-85643 was a 1988 built frame and received Aeroflot’s new silver scheme in 2003 and was one of the last in service. It was broken up at Sheremetyevo in June 2010.
Donavia was formed in 1993 from the assets of the Rostov-on-Don section of Aeroflot. It was purchased by Aeroflot in 2000 and began to operate as Aeroflot-Don in April 2000. Following the bad publicity of an Aeroflot-Nord crash Aeroflot decided to de-link itself from its subsidiaries and in 2009 the airline once again became Donavia. The carrier had operated a substantial number of Russian aircraft but as of late 2012 the entire fleet was formed of 737s and A319s. This 1988 build aircraft was originally CCCP-85640 with Aeroflot and was provided to Aeroflot-Don in 2000, receiving the new parent company inspired colours in 2008. She was leased to KMV in 2011 just prior to that airline’s winding up and has since been scrapped.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: