Russian Government To Upgrade its VIP Jet Fleet
The Russian government has finalized a follow-on order for four Tupolev Tu-204-300s with VIP interiors. The Kremlin’s Special Air Detachment, the government flight department that transports Russia’s senior political leaders and high-ranking officials, already operates two of the type. These were built in 2011 and delivered the following year after installation of some onboard equipment and interiors.
The fact that President Vladimir Putin’s administration is buying more Tu-204-300s became apparent when the Russian media published a recent interview with Sergei Dementiev, general manager at the Aviastar-SP plant where the Tu-204 is produced. He said that the plant in Ulianovsk terminated Tu-204-100V production in 2010 due to a lack of orders, but it is continuing low-rate manufacturing of the Tu-204-300 under orders from the Russian government. The Tu-204-300 will remain in production through 2017 and be assembled mostly in VIP and special-purpose variants, Dementiev added.
Business Aero, which serves several large Russian banks, also flies the VIP version of the Tupolev twinjet. This operator has one Tu-204-300A, a rebuilt version of an early-production Tu-204-100. The airplane has additional fuel tanks extending the airplane’s range with customer-specified payload up to 5,079 nm. This aircraft is equipped with a shower, a satellite communications set and a mood lighting system controlled centrally by the crew and the main passenger. The cabin is configured for 26 passengers.
Aviastar-SP is preparing its Tupolev assembly line for series production of the Tu-204SM. So far two of the aircraft have been completed, and these were used in the flight-test campaign that culminated in the issuing of Russian type certification in May this year. Aviastar-SP has four airframes in production and these are 50 percent complete, with plans to make 20 more by 2017. In addition to the earlier orders, the Russian government now is considering a larger order for some 30 Tu-204SM/300 for use by various government departments. Most of those will be supplied with a VIP interior.