The Russian state group United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) announced last week the resumption of production of 20 Tupolev Tu-214 jets, a single-aisle commercial aircraft, which was designed in the days of the Soviet Union.
Speaking to the TASS agency, Yuri Slyusar, CEO of UAC, said that locally produced aircraft will replace Airbus and Boeing models in service with companies in the country. “We have already started the production of twenty Tu-214 aircraft”, said the official, adding that the production of the Tu-214 is planned to meet the need for Russian air travel for “several years”.
Slyusar also stressed that the manufacturer intends to increase the production rate of the Ilyushin Il-96 long-range commercial jet and the Il-76 freighter. Both planes are also designs dating back to the times of the Soviet Union.
The decision to resume domestic aircraft programs is a response by Moscow to the impacts of international sanctions imposed on the country due to the invasion of Ukraine, which began in February.
The embargoes against Russia are severely affecting the country’s airline industry, which is barred from receiving aircraft from major Western manufacturers such as Airbus and Boeing. The blockade also prevents Russian airlines from importing spare parts and accessing technical support services.
The use of old aircraft is also a temporary solution while the new Russian commercial jets Irkut MC-21 and the Sukhoi SSJ100 version with 100% national content are not completed.
The mid-sized twin-engine Tu-214 (developed from the Tu-204) is a commercial aircraft that currently has few competitors. The plane has similar characteristics to the Boeing 757, which ceased production in 2004. Despite being the only representative of its class still in production, Tupolev’s latest commercial jet is quite unusual in Russia.
According to aircraft registry data, there are currently around 30 Tu-204/214s in service by airlines from just three countries: Russia, Egypt and North Korea. The aircraft are used on domestic and international routes and are also present in the cargo segment.
The Tu-204 performed its maiden flight in 1989 and the first planes debuted in commercial aviation in 1995. According to the manufacturer’s data, the aircraft has the capacity to carry 210 passengers and perform flights of up to 5,800 km, a performance slightly below the 757.
Like almost all Russian-made commercial aircraft, the Tupolev had no customers in the West. In an attempt to change this situation, the manufacturer developed a version equipped with Rolls-Royce engines, in order to facilitate the work of maintenance teams that already worked with this supplier on Airbus and Boeing jets, but without success.