Tupolev Tu-124

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Aeroflot Tupolev Tu-124 at Arlanda, April 1966.jpg
Aeroflot Tu-124 at Arlanda Airport in 1966
Role Short-range airliner
Manufacturer Tupolev OKB
First flight 29 March 1960
Introduction 2 October 1962
Retired 1980 (civil aviation), 1992 (military service)
Status Retired
Primary users Aeroflot
Produced 1960-1965
Number built 164
Developed from Tupolev Tu-104
Variants Tupolev Tu-134

The Tupolev Tu-124 (NATO reporting name: Cookpot) was a 56 passenger short range twinjet airliner built in the Soviet Union. It was the world's first turbofan-powered airliner.[1]

Design and development[edit]

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.[2]

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.[3][4] 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.[3][5] 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.[6]

Operational history[edit]

Aeroflot was impressed with the flight performance of the Tu-124 and used it on domestic routes from the end of 1962.

Aeroflot Tupolev Tu-124V in 1965

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,[7] 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 number were also sold to military users, including the Soviet Air Force, which used them as navigational trainers, and to the Chinese Air Force.[3][8]

A total of 164 Tu-124s were built.[9] 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 and at 1990, The ones in Iraq where destroyed in early 1990s during a war.

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[edit]

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.


Tu-124 operators (countries with only military operators in dark red)

Civil operators[edit]

ČSA Tu 124
 East Germany
 Soviet Union

Military operators[edit]

 People's Republic of China
 East Germany
 Soviet Union

Accidents and incidents[edit]

A total of 13 Tu-124s were written off in crashes during the type's operational career, and two aircraft of Iraqi Airways were destroyed on the ground during the Gulf War[10]

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]
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.[12]
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

Specifications (Tu-124V)[edit]

Data from Soviet Transport Aircraft since 1945[7]

General characteristics


See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ "TU-124 – Details of Tupolev's Medium Range Turbofan" Flight International, 16 August 1962, pp.229–230, article includes drawings
  3. ^ a b c Gunston 1995, p. 433.
  4. ^ Stroud 1968, pp. 227–229.
  5. ^ Duffy and Kandalov 1996, p. 134.
  6. ^ Duffy and Kandalov 1996, pp. 134–135.
  7. ^ a b Stroud 1968, p. 232.
  8. ^ Duffy and Kandalov 1996, pp. 135–136.
  9. ^ Duffy and Kandalov 1996, p. 224.
  10. ^ Aviation Safety Network list of Tu-124 hull losses retrieved 14 September 2011
  11. ^ Aviation Safety Network SSSR-45028 accident synopsis retrieved 14 September 2011
  12. ^ Aviation Safety Network V643 accident synopsis retrieved 14 September 2011
  13. ^ 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.

External links[edit]

Media related to Tupolev Tu-124 at Wikimedia Commons