just a brief trip report of a flight I did last weekend during a trip to Russia.
Sunday 24th August - the group had arranged to charter a Tu134 (RA-65097)
Photo © Paul Chandler
of Primair so it was an early start to get to Moscow - Domodedevo airport to start the day trip to Ekaterinburg in Siberia.
After a bit of waiting for the tickets/boarding passes to be issued we made our way onto a bus to take us to the aircraft which was on a remote apron.
Seat numbers had been allocated but nobdoy took any notice of them and I was lucky enough to get row 1 window on the left side.
Once we were settled in (68 of us) we were pushed back and the engines started. I have only been on one other soviert built aircraft (Tu154) so I had some idea of how noisy it was going to be - even sat at the front.
We used a lot of power to get moving as we taxied for take off. The safety brief was just that - very brief with no mention of oxygen masks should the cabin pressure fail for any reason.
Held for a minute while final checks were made and with a lot of noise we started rolling down the runway. After what seemed a very long run (50 seconds +) we got airborne and made a much more shallow climb than western built aircraft. The flaps & gear were raised very quickly after take off giving the normal 'sinking' feeling for a few moments. After a few turns we settled down for the climb to approx 10300 metres (russian aircraft use metres for altitude) for the 2 hour 10 minute flight to Ekaterinburg in siberia.
After reaching cruising altitude the seat belt sign was turned off and we were served a light snack which consisted of a 'swiss roll' type cake, small tub of jam and piece of chocolate. Tea/coffe/OJ and water were the only drinks available.
During the flight were were allowed into the cockpit to take pictures (which I will post when processed) The aircraft was operated with a 4 man crew - 2 pilots, radio operator and navigator (seated in the glass nose of the Tu134)
The internal layout of the aircraft was quite different to that of a western aircraft - we boarded through a smallish main door on the left side and turned right into the cabin (2 seat each side of aisle) Opposite the door was the toilet with others at the rear of the cabin. To the left was the galley are and some storage space with a passage leading to the cockpit door which was to the right side of the aircraft.
The flgiht passed quickly and we soon started the descent into Ekaterinburg - power off and down we went.
The Tu134 has no leading edge lift devices - it is after all an early jet (RA-65097 was built in 1978 and has seen service with the Gromov Research Institute and the United Nations. so a lot of poweer is used during the approach with flaps and u/c being deployed much later than on western aircraft (imo) Despite the differing techniques we made a smooth landing and with a lot of breaking and revserse thrust stopped and taxied to our parking stand (local time 2.10pm)
As we taxied in we could see a few tv camera's - all pointing in our direction and we realised that they were for us - apparently the fact that a group of 'foreigners' had charted a plane to visit Ekaterinburg was a bit of interesting news. Fortunately our russian guide was the only one able to communicate with them although as I was first off the plane I did wonder if I was going to get on TV.
We boarded a couple of buses to take us on our ramp tour where we were allowed to take photographs of Tu154/Il76 etc that were present.
We then went for a pre-arranged group lunch.
The rest of the afternoon was spent at a small airfield called Yktus (about 30 minutes away) and again were allowed to photograph the aircraft present (including An2, Mil2, Mil8, Yak 40, An74) (i will post some from the trip when processed)
We returned to the airport around 6.30pm for the flgiht back to Moscow which was a copy of the outward flight apart from one thing - the weather.
During the flight back it became very bumpy and the descent was a bit like a roller coaster with a lot of movement and lots of power being required.
As the Tu134 is an old design with early jet engines (which are low in power) it was a little unnerving to say the least. I was sat by the overwing exit this time and could hear/feel the many power changes being made during the approach. I had also noticed during the cruise the build up of ice on 4 screws at the bottom of the exit door (inside the cabin) We also appeared to hold as a lot of turns were made as we descended. Again the gear and flaps were 'late' in being deployed as we turned onto a very short final approach (flaps seemed to have 2 positions - in or out) and once out the aircraft needed a lot of power to maintain the approach. As we crossed the airport boundary full power (or close to it) was applied and I did think we were going to go around but we made a very flat but smooth landing which was greated by a few claps / cheers.
After heaving breaking & use of reverse thrust on the wet runway we turned off the runway and waited for the 'follow me' truck to show us to our parking spot.
It was a good day out on an interesting aircraft - we were well looked after by the crew.
I could also post a report on how I got to Moscow but i doubt that 4 flights on SAS MD80's would be as interesting as this.
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