MOSCOW — President Dmitry Medvedev said yesterday that Soviet-built planes similar to the one that crashed this week should be taken out of service from next year.
Medvedev said pilot error appears to be the cause of Monday’s crash of a Tu-134 passenger jet that killed 45, but also said the time has come for the aging planes to be mothballed.
“I ordered the ministry to speed up preparations for withdrawing the Tu-134s from service,’’ Medvedev said, adding that they should be removed from regular flights starting next year.
He said that arrangements also must be worked out to end the use of the Tu-134s on charter flights as well, but he did not say when that may happen.
The 31-year-old RusAir Tu-134 plane slammed into a highway moments before landing at the Petrozavodsk airport in Russia’s northwest on Monday. Seven people survived the crash.
The twin-engine Tu-134, along with its larger sibling the Tu-154, has been the workhorse of Soviet and Russian civil aviation since the 1960s with more than 800 planes built.
The Russian flag carrier Aeroflot has withdrawn all its Tu-134s and Tu-154s from service and almost exclusively relies on Boeings and Airbuses.
On Tuesday, it announced orders for eight more
But many smaller airlines are still using the Tupolev planes because they lack money to get more modern Western planes.