|Aeroflot Tu-124 at Arlanda Airport in 1966|
|First flight||29 March 1960|
|Introduction||2 October 1962|
|Retired||1980 (civil aviation), 1992 (military service)|
|Developed from||Tupolev Tu-104|
Design and development
Developed from the medium-range Tupolev Tu-104, the Tu-124 was meant to meet Aeroflot's requirement for a regional airliner to replace the Ilyushin Il-14 on domestic routes. Resembling a 75% scaled-down Tu-104, the two were hard to tell apart at a distance but it was not a complete copy of the Tu-104. The Tu-124 had a number of refinements, including double-slotted flaps, a large centre-section airbrake and automatic spoilers. Unlike the Tu-104, the wing trailing edge inboard of the undercarriage was unswept.
The Tu-124 retained a drogue parachute to be used in an emergency landing or landing on a slippery surface and had low pressure tires to aid operation from unpaved airfields. As on the Tu-104 the engines were integrated into the wings, but the turbofan engines were more fuel efficient. The placement of the engines amplified vibrations, which affected the comfort of the passenger cabin, and also the fatigue lifetime of the wing assembly.
The standard seating of the basic version was 44 seats. The first of two prototype, SSSR-45000 (C/N 0350101) made its first flight from Zhukovsky airfield on 24 March 1960. The second prototype, SSSR-45001 (C/N 0350102), followed in June 1960. Two other airframes served as a static test cells. Testing was successful, and the aircraft entered production at Factory 135 at Kharkov, Ukraine, replacing the Tu-104 in production. Deliveries to Aeroflot began in August 1962, with the type operating its first scheduled passenger service, between Moscow and Tallinn in Estonia, on 2 October 1962.
Aeroflot was impressed with the flight performance of the Tu-124 and used it on domestic routes from the end of 1962.
The improved Tu-124V, which could seat 56 passengers instead of the 44 of the original model, and which had increased range and maximum take-off weight, came into service in 1964. An Aeroflot Tu-124V was exhibited at the 1965 Paris Air Show. Despite the aircraft's low purchase price (stated as $1.45 million in 1965) and low operating costs, few were exported, with Československé Státní Aerolinie (ČSA) and the East German airline Interflug being the only airlines other than Aeroflot that bought the Tu-124 new, although ČSA sold its surviving Tu-124s to Iraqi Airways for use on VIP flights in 1973. Interflug used its three Tu-124s as an alternative to the Ilyushin Il-62, when the Il-62s were grounded due to mechanical issues. All three were sold back to the Soviet Union in 1975.
Three airframes were completed in 1966 in a VIP configuration, and designated Tu-124K. However, Aeroflot never placed them into service, and they were purchased by the Indian Air Force.
A total of 164 Tu-124s were built. Issues with the safety of the Tu-104 had an impact on the fate of the Tu-124, although the reliability of the Tu-124 was slightly better. Production ended in 1965 and Aeroflot decommissioned its last twelve Tu-124s on 21 January 1980. The Tu-124 continued in operation for some years with the Soviet Air Force and in Iraq, but all aircraft were withdrawn before 1990.
Several Tu-124s have been preserved. One is in the museum of Kharkov State Aircraft Manufacturing Company (formerly the Tu-124 manufacturer Factory 135), another is in China's Datangshan aviation museum in Beijing and a third is at the Central Air Force Museum at Monino outside Moscow. A Tu-124K is on display at New Delhi Airport.
Competition within the COMECON
The German Democratic Republic attempted to compete within the COMECON trading bloc with its own four-engined design called the Baade 152. The design was unsuccessful, leading Interflug to buy a rear-engined development of the Tu-124, the Tupolev Tu-134.
- The first production variant. International demand was small, as most foreign airlines were waiting to buy the improved Tupolev Tu-134
- Three prototypes with D-20P-125 engines, built in 1963
- VIP configuration operated by the militaries of Iraq and the Peoples' Republic of China, and by the Indian Air Force
- Military version used as navigator trainer
- Military version used as navigator trainer
- Proposed military transport version, not built.
- Indian Air Force [three Tu-124K VIP variants]
Accidents and incidents
|Date||Tail number||Crash Site||Casualties||Brief description|
|21 August 1963||USSR 45021||USSR Leningrad||0/52||ditched in the Neva river in Leningrad after it ran out of fuel. The crew were distracted by problems with the landing gear. All occupants of the aircraft survived the ditching.|
|8 March 1965||USSR 45028||USSR Kuibyshev||30/39||crashed shortly after taking off from Kuybyshev Airport, Russia on a flight to Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport, after the pilots lost control of the aircraft. The accident killed 21 of 30 passengers and all nine crew on board.|
|11 November 1965||USSR 45086||USSR Murmansk||32/64||failed landing|
|7 March 1968||USSR 45019||USSR Volgograd||1/49||inadvertent activation of spoilers|
|29 January 1970||USSR 45083||USSR Murmansk||11/38||crashed in mountain while landing: several survivors died of hypothemia while waiting for rescue|
|18 August 1970||Czechoslovakia OK-TEB||Switzerland Zurich||0/20||pilot forgot to lower landing gear|
|2 September 1970||USSR 45012||USSR Dnepropetrovsk||37/37||unknown|
|9 July 1973||USSR 45062||USSR Kuibyshev||2/61||lost power on takeoff|
|20 November 1973||USSR 45031||USSR Kazan||0/NA||overran runway|
|16 December 1973||USSR 45061||USSR Moscow||51/51||rudder failure pushed plane into dive|
|23 December 1973||USSR 45044||USSR Lviv||17/17||left engine caught fire in flight|
|3 January 1976||USSR 45037||USSR Moscow||61/61||instrument failure in clouds; crew lost orientation|
|5 November 1977||India V643||India Jorhat Airport||5/10||one of the three Tu-124K VIP variants purchased by the Indian Air Force in 1966, named Pushpak Rath (Floral Chariot), crashed in a paddy field near Jorhat Airport, Assam. The then Indian Prime Minister Morarji Desai who was on board survived, though five crew members died as a result of the crash.|
|29 August 1979||USSR 45038||USSR Kirsanov||63/63||flap failure on landing|
|February 1991||Iraq YI-AEY||Iraq Bagdhad||0/0||destroyed on ground in Gulf War|
|February 1991||Iraq YI-AEL||Iraq Bagdhad||0/0||destroyed on ground in Gulf War|
Data from Soviet Transport Aircraft since 1945
- Crew: three
- Capacity: 56 passengers
- Length: 30.58 m (100 ft 4 in)
- Wingspan: 25.55 m (83 ft 10 in)
- Height: 8.08 m (26 ft 6 in)
- Wing area: 119.4 m² (1,284 ft²)
- Empty weight: 22,900 kg (50,486 lb)
- Max. takeoff weight: 37,500 kg (82,673 lb)
- Powerplant: 2 × Soloviev D-20P turbofans, 53.1 kN (11,905 lbf) each
- Maximum speed: 970 km/h (523 knots, 602 mph) at 8,000 m (26,000 ft)
- Cruise speed: 800–870 km/h (432–469 knots, 497–540 mph)
- Range: 2,100 km (1,133 nmi, 1,304 mi) (maximum fuel, 3,000 kg (6,600 lb) payload)
- Service ceiling: 11,700 m (38,385 ft)
- Rate of climb: 12.0 m/s (2,360 ft/min)
- Related development
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Related lists
- This assumes the Rolls-Royce Conway on the 707-420 was not a turbofan. The first turbofan airliner to enter service was the 707-420 in 1960 or the 707-123B in March 1961.
- "TU-124 – Details of Tupolev's Medium Range Turbofan" Flight International, 16 August 1962, pp.229–230, article includes drawings
- Gunston 1995, p. 433.
- Stroud 1968, pp. 227–229.
- Duffy and Kandalov 1996, p. 134.
- Duffy and Kandalov 1996, pp. 134–135.
- Stroud 1968, p. 232.
- Duffy and Kandalov 1996, pp. 135–136.
- Duffy and Kandalov 1996, p. 224.
- Aviation Safety Network list of Tu-124 hull losses retrieved 14 September 2011
- Aviation Safety Network SSSR-45028 accident synopsis retrieved 14 September 2011
- Aviation Safety Network V643 accident synopsis retrieved 14 September 2011
- Gunston 1995, p. 434.
- Duffy, Paul and Andrei Kandalov. Tupolev: The Man and His Aircraft. Shrewsbury, UK:Airlife Publishing, 1996. ISBN 1-85310-728-X.
- Gunston, Bill. The Osprey Encyclopedia of Russian Aircraft 1875–1995. London:Osprey, 1995. ISBN 1-85532-405-9.
- Stroud, John. Soviet Transport Aircraft since 1945. London:Putnam, 1968. ISBN 0-370-00126-5.
Media related to Tupolev Tu-124 at Wikimedia Commons