Tu-154M to Minsk
by Jan Koppen
During the last days of May 2015, I attended Belavia's Tu-154M farewell flight to Minsk, Belarus, which was organized by Merlintours.
This EasyJet Airbus A320 transported me from Amsterdam to Geneva, in order to attend the Tu-154M farewell flight to Minsk.
Geneva Fire brigade training Boeing 737-200 HB-SSA. Originally delivered back in 1968 to United Airlines as N9029U this frame was in service for 30 years and amassed more than 90.000 flying hours. After United she also operated for Aloha, Euralair, Air Liberte and Air Mediterranee. Now she is stored and used as fire brigade trainer at Geneva airport since October 12, 2006.
An era ends. Belavia's last commercial Tupolev Tu-154M flight, bound for Minsk, was thundering away from Geneva's Cointrin runway 23, 30 minutes later.
Your author and 'our' Captain, who was in charge of Belavia's Tu-154M farewell flight to Minsk.
EW-85748 Tupolev 154M was operated by Belavia on flights within Western Europe and the iron curtain countries.
The 154 is an intimidating 3-holer.
One of the last European airlines to operate the 154 on regular passenger services was Belavia.
In 2015, Belavia was one of the last remaining commercial operators of a Tupolev TU-154.
The Tu-154 is powered by three rear-mounted low-bypass turbofan engines arranged similarly to those of the Boeing 727, but it is slightly larger than its American counterpart. Both the 727 and the Tu-154 use an S-duct for the middle (Number 2) engine. The original model was equipped with Kuznetsov NK-8-2 engines, which were replaced with Soloviev D-30KU-154 in the Tu-154M. All Tu-154 aircraft models have a relatively high thrust-to-weight-ratio which give excellent performance, at the expense of lower fuel efficiency. This became an important factor in later decades as fuel costs grew.
The Tupolev Tu-154 use an S-duct for the middle (Number 2) engine.
Elegance at her best!
Mr. Charles Kennedy with two lovely Belavia CA's.
Iran Government Airbus A321 EP-AGB, is taxiing out for take-off from runway 23 at Geneva-Cointrin on May 29, 2015.
Pay attention folks!
Off it was on a bright sunny Saturday, end of May 2015, rocketing down to Minsk in merely 2 hours 45 minutes, bringing back memories from our more glorious aviation past back in the 70's and 80's, from times when we were young.
High above the Alps, enroute from Geneva to Minsk.
We got rewarded with bright sunshine on this lovely Saterday in May 2015.
A Belarusian television crew was onboard to interview several aviation enthusiasts on the Tu-154 farewell flight.
The Tu-154's catering door.
The Tu-154M's emergency exit.
Many aviation legends were onboard this legendary flight. The man in the middle is Mr. Boris of Merlintours who organised the tour.
The Tu-154M's emergency exit.
She made contact with the runway and ......
Rows of IL-76's greeted us!
The front office of EW-85748, but can a photograph communicate the feel of this wonderful machine?
Part of the Tupolev’s ‘stone age’ flight deck.
The large device situated beside the pilot’s seat is a weather radar display, complete with cathode ray tube.
Her switches and controls, worn smooth by the touch of a thousand hands.
The flight engineer’s position is well illustrated in this shot of Belavia Tu-154M at the ramp of the airline’s home-base Minsk.
The Tu-154M is the most highly upgraded version, which first flew in 1982 and entered mass production in 1984. It uses more fuel-efficient Soloviev D-30KU-154 turbofans. Together with significant aerodynamic refinement, this led to much lower fuel consumption hence longer range, as well as lower operating costs. The aircraft has new double-slotted (instead of triple-slotted) flaps, with an extra 36-degree position (in addition to existing 15, 28 and 45-degree positions on older versions), which allows reduction of noise on approach. It also has a relocated auxiliary power unit and numerous other improvements. Maximum takeoff weight increased first to 100,000 kg (220,462 lb), then to 102,000 kg (224,872 lb). About 320 were manufactured. Mass production ended in 2006.
Another quick turnround for EW-85748 as it disembarks passengers from Geneva, Switserland.
Mr. Kennedy is seen here arriving at Minsk Airport. We have been informed by the White House that Mrs. Kennedy stayed home with the childeren.
The Tu-154M is a brute!
A ground power unit pumps energy into our stationary Tupolev Tu-154M as it sits on the ramp at Minsk, Belarus.
Here, our Belavia Tu-154M EW-85748 receives attention from a Belavia ground engineer.
Toilet service. Always a nasty job!
Welcom to Belarus.
Departures hall and ticket office.
A lot of Russian hardware is present at Minsk-2.
Trans Avia Export IL-76TD. 'TD' stands for; - T= Transport Civil and D= Long Range.
Ruby Star IL-76TD EW-412TH received attention on the ramp during our visit in May 2005. The Ilyushin has led a hard-working life. The airframe was manufactured 1982 and delivered May 17, 1982 to the Aeroflot as CCCP-76464. During the years she also had a career with the Azerbaijan operator Silk Way Airlines. With the latter she wore registration EY-609. Finally she left for Belarus and started working for Ruby Star.
Boeing 747-200F EW-445TQ was delivered to All Nippon Airways in July 1989 as JA8190. Acquired by TransAVIAexport Airlines in May 2015, the aircraft still looked pretty smart in the maintenance area at Minsk Airport some 27 years later.
EW-399PO Embraer 195LR is operated by Belavia on flights within Europe and the former Iron curtain countries.
Boeing 737-500 EW-253PA is one of a number operated by Belavia on the company's network.
Friday routine maintenanc at Minsk-2.
Boeing 737-524 EW-252PA Belavia pauses between flights.
Boeing 737 EW-252PA and EW-437PA take a break between operations.
The Boeing twinjet gained a large stronghold in Europe as a popular short-to-medium range aircraft with major flag carriers such as SAS, KLM and Belavia.
Belavia Boeing 737-824 EW-437PA caught on camera at Minsk-2 on May 29, 2015.
Belavia's Embraer regioanal Jets are also regular visitors of my home-base airport Amsterdam-Schiphol.
Embraer 195LR WE-399PO is seen here at Minsk-2 awaiting its passengers before her outbound flight to Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Belavia’s newest Embraer 195LR, EW-390POCP-1655, tops up with Jet-A1 at Minsk-2.
The Minsk based Embraer's are hard working aeroplanes.
Belavia Boeing 737-500 EW-252PA is seen here resting with a set of chocks in place.
Belavia Canadair Regional Jet EW-303PJ approaches Minsk-2 on a clear May day in 2015.
The bright Belavia livery is seen gleaming in the spring sunlight.
Here, two Genex Ltd. Antonov 26B's are caught between flights on a partly overcast day at Minsk-2 airport in May 2015.
EW-259TG is an Antonov An-26B. The B stands for; - Civil Cargo version with roller gangs, advanced engines and higher thrust Ivchyenko AI-24VT. ex Kroonk Air UR-26094.
Soft spring light glints off this classic Antonov An-26B. The aircraft had finished its day’s work by lunchtime and moved to a quieter part of the airport where I had the opportunity to photograph her.
EW-328TG is former Aeroflot Antonov An-26B RA-26135 and was Arkhangel based.
Ruby Star Antonov An-12 EW-338TI takes a break at Minsk-2 on the gorgeous spring day of 2015.
Crisp spring sunshine glints off the polished aluminum topside of Ruby Star Antonov An-12 EW-338TI.
Originally delivered to Aeroflot in September 1989 as CCCP-11976, the Antonov An-12BP passed through a succession of owners, including Vega Airlines, ATMA and Aero Charter Ukraine, before ending up with Ruby Star in May 2005.
International Airport Minsk was previously known as Minsk-2.
This means Belarus in Belarusian.
Grodno Avia Kompanio EW-237CD is a PZL Mielec An-2R and is one of the gate-guards out-side the main terminal.
The extensiveness of the canopy glazing really did give the impression of being a greenhouse, providing excellent visibility in the forward hemisphere. The glazing panels were flat to prevent visual distortion, and the canopy was bulged out to the sides to permit a downward view, a feature referred to as the "balcony" and a handy thing for trying to land on short fields, or during crop-dusting.
The Shvetsov ASh-62R engine is a nine-cylinder single-row air-cooled radial, which some sources claim was based on the US Wright Cyclone engine. There was a carburetor intake on top of the engine cowling, an oil cooler below the cowling, and an exhaust on the right side.
EW-88202 is a Yakolev Yak-40 with fake titels 'Minskavia'. She is ex Belavia.
Gomelavia Antonov An-24RV EW-47291. is a former Belavia ship. Note; - RV stands for TurboJet boosted An-24V.
Aeroflot Tupolev Tu-134A with fake registration CCCP-65036. This ship flew for Belavia as EW-65149 from 1993 until 2009. Note; - the A stands for upgraded engines, improved avionics, 84 pax seating, a glass nose and a chin radom.
Russian airliners were ready to operate under wartime conditions at very short notice. Here, this Tu-134A sports an identification, friend or foe (IFF) transceiver antenna on the anti-glare panel.
Trans Avia Export Iluyshin IL-76TD EW-76709 was build in 1987. Her original registration was EW-76710 and she is preserved since 2012.
TransAVIAexport Airlines is a Belarusian national airline involved in air transportation of cargo. It is based at Minsk International Airport in Belarus, with a hub at Sharjah International Airport, in the United Arab Emirates. TransAVIAexport Airlines was established in December 1992 in Belarus. The airline operates worldwide cargo flights. TransAVIAexport Airlines operated IL-76 heavy-lifters capable of transporting up to 45 tons of freight with a volume up to 210 cubic meters. IL-76 "Candid", a heavy ramp freighter, is one of the most efficient and demanded aircraft. The ability of this aircraft to operate in airport with undeveloped or underdeveloped infrastructure allows it to both meet the needs of entire regions in term of air cargo transportation, and significantly expand the customer base by attracting shippers who would normally use other ways of transportation.
A close up of the glazed nose of the beast! Trans Avia Export Iluyshin IL-76TD EW-76709.
With original registration EW-85581 and built in 1983, Minsk-2 Airport's gate guardian is seen here with a great late afternoon. The Tupolev is a Tu-154B2 and is stored since 2004.
Within the city's bounderies one can find, the now closed, Minsk-1 airport.
The control tower and part of the deserted ramp.
Jet Alliance Cessna 750 Citatin X OE-HAK was seized by the authorities in October 2011 and she has been stored since.
EW-376CD is an Antonov An-2R.
The An-2 is equipped with various design features which make it suitable for operation in remote areas with unsurfaced airstrips. It is fitted with a pneumatic brake system (similar to those used on heavy road vehicles) to stop on short runways, along with an airline attached to the compressor, so the pressure in the tires and shock absorbers can be adjusted without the need for installing specialized equipment. The batteries, while sizable, are relatively easy to remove, so the aircraft does not need a ground power unit to supply power for starting the engine. Likewise, there is no need for an external fuel pump to refuel the aircraft as it is provided with an inbuilt onboard pump, which allows the tanks to be filled from simple fuel drums.
Kaz Air Jet Yakolev Yak-42D UP-Y4214 is seen here at Minsk-1 Airport.
Boarding flight B2/0867. with destination Amsterdam-Schiphol.
His Excellency, Mr. Peter 'Fokker' van der Voorst is leaving the country after a succesful spotters trip.
We can feel our Boeing 737-500 EW-251PA rotate from runway 13 at Minsk.
...... more Ilyushins
...... and many, many more Ilyushins.
In the foreground Trans Avia Export IL-76 EW-78839 and an EW-76735 in an all white livery. The Tu-154 in the background is EW-85706 and the 154 in the foreground and still wearing the old Belavia colors is EW--85509.
A last glimpse of the packed Minsk maintenance tarmac, with Belarus government Tu-154M EW-85815 in the foreground.
- The End -