It's the end of the line for the Tupolev Tu-154. This triple-engined medium-range narrow-body airliner was the workhorse of the Soviet Union, but managed to stay afloat long after the fall of communism. While noise regulations banned it from Western Europe quite a while ago, experts say that Tu-154s will serve the public until for at least another three years.

Despite the fact that its NATO reporting name is "Careless," the Tu-154 is known for being a thirsty but reliable beast. Since its introduction in 4 October 1968, this well known plane was involved in only 39 fatal accidents, six of which resulted from terrorist or military action. The rest were mostly due to poor runway conditions in winter, cargo overloading in the lapse of post-Soviet federal safety standards, mid-air collisions due to faulty air traffic control, running out of fuel on unscheduled routes, pilot errors or cargo fires.


The last Tu-154 leaving the Aviakor factory in Samara will go to the Russian Ministry of Defense.  While this plane was only the second longest produced airliner after the Boeing 737 Series, its oversized landing gear and 590 mph top speed took it to places where its American colleague didn't want to go.

Photo credit: Fortepan and Dean Morley