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Aircraft Review : Tupolev Tu-154M by Felis Planes Fly into most Russian major airports today and you will find yourself looking at basically the same Boeings and Airbuses that dominate the western hemispheres airline networks. The change has been dramatic and in only a few decades has this movement of aircraft equipment been so revolutionary to the Russian way of traveling. But go back past those few decades and enter the pre-glasnost era (Soviet policy of openness) and your travel in the Soviet and eastern bloc territories would have been only on a Tupolev, Ilyushin, Beriev or Antonov airliner. Of all these aircraft one design was the workhorse of all most every Soviet airline and in the case of the state run airline Aeroflot and its subsidiaries it carried half of all passengers of those airlines with the noted 137.5 million/year or 243.8 billion passenger km in and accounted for in 1990, and remained the standard bearer domestic-route airliner of Russia and former Soviet states until the mid-2000s... That iconic aircraft was the Tupolev Tu-154. The Tu-154 was developed to meet Aeroflot's requirement to replace the jet-powered Tu-104, the Antonov An-10 'Ukraine' and the IIyushin II-18 Turbo-props. The TU-154 was the Russian equivalent of the west's American Boeing 727 and British Hawker Siddeley Trident in being a three-engine, medium-range, narrow-body airliner. It was designed with a payload capacity of 16–18 tonnes (35,000–40,000 lb) with a range of 2,850–4,000 kilometres (1,770–2,490 mi) while cruising at 900 km/h (560 mph), or a payload of 5.8 tonnes (13,000 lb) with a range of 5,800–7,000 kilometres (3,600–4,300 mi) while cruising at 850 km/h (530 mph). A take-off distance of 2,600 metres (8,500 ft) at maximum take-off weight was also stipulated as a requirement. The Tu-154 first flew on 4 October 1968. The first deliveries to Aeroflot were in 1970 with freight (mail) services beginning in May 1971 and passenger services in February 1972. The most popular version was the Tu-154M as it uses the more fuel-efficient Soloviev D-30KU-154 turbofans. Together with significant aerodynamic refinement, this led to much lower fuel consumption and therefore 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 Tu-154M's were manufactured. Mass production ended in 2006, though limited manufacturing continued as of January 2009. and altogether 1,026 Tu-154's rolled off the line at factory N18 in Kyibyshev. last variant (Tu-154M-100, introduced 1998) includes an NVU-B3 Doppler navigation system, a triple autopilot, which provides an automatic ILS approach according to ICAO category II weather minimums, an autothrottle, a Doppler drift and speed measure system (DISS), "Kurs-MP" radio navigation suite and others. A stability and control augmentation system improves handling characteristics during manual flight. Modern upgrades normally include a TCAS, GPS and other modern systems, are mostly American or EU-made. The Tu-154 had the notoriety of over a hundred aircraft accidents (the Tu-154's NATO name was: Careless!). But many if most were not the fault of design but of the aircraft being used well beyond its (already impressive) capabilities, poor crew flying and bad weather incidents. In normal airline and military service it was a very capable and reliable aircraft. Felis Planes Tu-154M Felis Planes are well known around X-Plane for their excellent Russian aircraft. The An-24 and the Yak 40 were both very well received and are regarded as great aircraft to fly in the simulator and both are well worth a purchase (Both aircraft are currently on special for US$10). This Tupolev Tu-154 is Felis's biggest and most ambitious aircraft for X-Plane yet, and as the aircraft is so iconic with Russian design it required it to be certainly a high quality design to represent the best of flying these mid-60's Soviet era aircraft. This aircraft's release also has created a bit of a small predicament in creating this review for X-PlaneReviews. It is a very complicated aircraft to learn and fly well, and the depth of the systems presented here in the aircraft would mean a few weeks to get highly familiar with the various systems and flying capabilities. So that created a small dilemma in that as users you want to know about the aircraft and its systems, but in a short time frame it is just not possible to do that, so in this first review I have concentrated on the aircraft and with what you get in the package, and later I then intend to add in the systems and flying aspects of the aircraft and maybe explain a few of the areas and the layouts of the systems. This dilemma was to a point created by the developers who didn't release a full instruction manual with the aircraft. There are a few video's and a basic instruction note that is noted below, but as the set up of the cockpit is very Russian and the soviet systematic approach to the way they fly their aircraft it was almost impossible to translate the systems and button settings from flying a western designed aircraft. I have flown and reviewed Russian aircraft before, but the systems here on this Tu-154 are very in depth and with no translation available it will take longer to work out the systems for evaluation. The Tu-154's cockpit is traditional Russian blue-green and yellow-green. 3d design and texture work is very good but a little dated compared to most current new X-Plane cockpit textures, overall though it feels excellent and is very Russian. Engineers panel is very (very) comprehensive. Everything works correctly on all the panels from the switchgear to all the dials. Tu-154's originally had four crew members in a Captain, First Officer, Flight Engineer and Navigator, but the navigator was later dropped from the crew list as more automated navigation equipment was installed in the aircraft. Cabin is first class (no pun intended), and is extremely well done and fitted out. I like the Russian lit signage which is highly authentic and realistic. When you change the livery the seat headrest airline brand changes, love that and want more of that please developers. The internal fit-out is really good and it is a great place to explore or travel in. Doors and entrance is very good and authentic. Tu-154 Panels & Instruments The instrument panel is a mixture of mid-60's design and a few modern navigation aids thrown in, but very authentic it is. You can workout the basic set of Standard Six instruments in Airspeed Indicator, Attitude Indicator or Artificial Horizon, Altimeter, Turn Coordinator, Heading Dial and Vertical Speed, but the speed instruments come in separate KM/h and Mach dials. The Vertical speed instrument both a standard and digital display as well . The clock far lower left is a timepiece of many hands, all the instruments presented here are excellent and very authentic but most are just duplicates of the main central dials and gauges. Four main instruments in Artificial Horizon, Heading Dial, Speed and the digital Vertical Speed indicator are caged within a white boundary line on both the Captain's and First Officer's panels. Central panel consists of top with the three main engine RPM gauges, Stab (Stabiliser) position indicator and flaps position (left/Right). Lower is an excellent bank indicator, and an excellent working radar screen, there is a second unit on the Captain's left side. The weather radar works (standard X-Plane weather displayed), and there are another two backup dials for Speed and altitude. There is an excellent retro fitted Bendix King KLN90 GPS unit that is used for flying flightplans. This unit is quite complex and you have to install it in after the aircraft is installed. Noted here the KLN90 version was created by Dennis Pruefer of EADT (x737) but the download version from EADT does not work? You have to download the customised Tu-154 version that is not noted (The EADT version is?) in the manual... The correct download link is: http://felis-planes.com/upload/tu154/KLN90_Tu154.ZIP Installation is easy and details are provided. The manual for using the KLN90 is available from the Dennis Pruefer EADT download, so I have attached that manual below. The aircraft's indent transponder is set out below the KLN90 and is quite basic. The centre console is well done but complex. It maybe stupidly easy to use, but in the translation it looks quite foreboding and you don't quite understand the context of the systems or relate them to the western ideal of system layouts. It is important to note that Felis has put in a conversion from the Cyrillic text to an English text that can be changed via the menu panels. Three engine throttle levers have the two left and right levers with the thrust-reverse levers attached and nothing on the central lever. There is a great hunky spoiler retract and extend lever but the flaps and undercarriage levers are on the mid-roof panel. On the centre glareshield I think is the autopilot selections? Roof panel has the VOR 1 and 2 frequency selectors and the Com 1 and 2 frequency selectors and another transponder. The right wall engineers panel(s) is really well done and every switch and function works. So you will need to study the aircraft systems to get the best out of the panel, how I don't know yet, but the video below does help. The separate systems panels are noted for Electrical, APU (Start), Engines (dials), Fuel System, HYD System (hydraulics) and Air-Conditioning. Upper panel covers Servo power (autopilot), Fire Protection, Ice Protection and lights. There is a full set of both throttle levers and stop fuel valve levers with a park brake set on the left side of the engineers console. Yokes are beautiful and very authentic (you can hide them) as are the rudder pedals. A quirk is that to steer the aircraft on the ground you have to switch the steering on via the switch on the left side of the mid-roof panel, then switch it off to takeoff. Wipers work in two speeds. ______________________________________________________________________ Menus There is tab menu system on the right side of your screen. There are three sectional tabs available: NAV SERV MISC NAV: consists of four TABs in: NVU - ABSU - OVHD - KLN This will bring up four pop-up panels with two from the centre console (NVU and ABSU) and the Overhead panel (OVHD) and finally a pop-out for the KLN90 GPS. Panels are not sizable and particularly the overhead and they can take up a very large percentage of the screen real estate and make flying and viewing together awkward. SERV: SERV (Services) has two tabs in: LOAD and GND (Ground) The LOAD pop-up panel is a very good aircraft setup or loading sheet that covers Passenger and Crew (nice touch) numbers, and cargo weights. There are shortcut 0%, 25%, 50% and 100% shortcuts. As well as Kitchen and Equipment loads. You can set up the fuel loads and calculate the amount by flying distance and flight level, navigation fuel and taxi time required. A great alternative system than just guessing the amount of fuel you need by weight. You can load the setting in slow or fast. All the panel changes are reflected in the "results" section that shows you your final weights and CoG (Centre of Gravity). Very comprehensive and very good and overall very easy to use. The second tab is the GND - Ground tab. This tab allows you to use a set of ground vehicles including two sets of stairs (called ladders here?), a catering truck, fuel tanker and GPU (Ground Power Unit). As design goes they are the older Soviet style of trucks (a la FlightFactor) and not the newer designs I like in JARdesign's "Ground Handling Deluxe" plugin. Other items you can use are the lovely red engine covers, gear blocks (chocks) and sensor covers. You can also open the aircraft's doors and both the Captain's and First Officer's side windows. Top of the panel are two main selections that allow you to change the text from Cyrillic to English. The other right side selection is to hide the Yokes... Overall a really good ground support and options layour, but there is no pushback truck. Bottom tab is the MISC - Miscellaneous selection. This tab has four pop-up panels that includes: CAM (Camera or Views) - PHON (or iPhone) - CHK - LST (Checklist) and TAB (Speed References) CAM gives you eight panel views and one rear cabin window view. PHON uses a iPhone interface for the use of four applications. Here you have a GPS with your speed, altitude and vertical speed, second app is a unit converter with KG - LBs and MPS to FPM. CHK-LST is a very nice original Soviet interface that covers four checklist areas in: Before TAKE OFF and Before LANDING - Before takeoff has five tabs covering Before engine start - Before Taxi - On Taxi - Before Line-Up and Before Takeoff. The LANDING section has Top of Decend - After passing Transition Flightlevel - Before Base Turn (20-25 km before Final) After ILS Establish. Final TAB is your vSpeed References for takeoff and landing. ______________________________________________________________________ A quick flight in the Tu-154 I took the Tupolev Tu-154 for a quick circuit around Sheremetyevo International Airport, Moscow to get a feel for the aircraft. No doubt this is a very different experience than the usual European or American airliner, but then that is what simulation is all about, and here a very different machine to use and fly. There is certainly a Russian way of aviation that is very different from the way most other worldly aircraft operate, and it needs a little learning and getting used to... If the aircraft is not configured for flight by say the flaps or settings then the aircraft will tell you it is not safe to takeoff. External design of Felis's Tu-154 is excellent. Great design work and the aircraft looks very good in the early morning Russian sunshine. I love the stance of the Tu-154, very Gerry Anderson (Thunderbirds) in a sixties futuristic look. The wheels look like they are not turning but they are, and the wheels caps will need you to get very close to them to see the excellent detailing of the undercarriage on those excellent six wheel main bogies, and the front twin-wheel set up. Riveting patterns are well done but a little too large with the "draw per pixel lighting" setting on. Slightly smaller in size and they would have been perfect, but overall the work on the fuselage and wings is excellent. Power to weight and three engines give you quite a push on the roll, but you have to get the right takeoff speed unless the rear bogies become unstuck before the nosegear does... Gear retraction is a marvel to watch and surprisingly the aircraft is very nice in manual mode to fly. Great balance and great feedback on what the aircraft is doing. In the lighting sets there are two nose lights noted as "Signal Lights" that can only be used in flight, no idea what for? Certainly I wanted to do a full route, but even after an hour and a half burning off fuel and I still couldn't even get the autopilot to work I gave up and headed back to UUEE. Shame as I really like flying this Tu-154 aircraft, It will come. Those double-slotted slats look terrific on approach The pitch is very sensitive, certainly on approach, but the aircraft can land at quite low speeds and I haven't found the base line yet, but I would guess it is quite slow at around 140knts. But in that landing window the aircraft was very nice to land and control. Thrust reversers look and sound really good, but a real disappointment is that the engine fans are static or are they just well hidden, well you be the judge. Back on the ground and you have to quickly remember to turn the front gear steering back on! to turn off the runway, small thing but important. A small quirk is that if you go directly from flight to a ground parking position via the "location" menu then you have to drop the gear down before moving the aircraft or you find you Tu-154 sitting on it's belly. ______________________________________________________________________ Lighting The lighting switches are positioned everywhere in the aircraft, left, right side panels and on the two overhead panels. No adjustment here but just on or off, but it looks brilliant at night, and the cockpit is a very nice place to be. Instruments are clear and very authentic to use and look at. Engineers panel is sensational, a beautiful place to work from. The sweeping radar scan looks amazing in the darkened cockpit, truly sensational. There is a secondary display to the right of the radar with a great altitude position and current aircraft situation and two other modes that I can't find out what they do? but they look good! Overhead panel and centre console look great as well, and the whole machine is very different from most aircraft, but you will really like this. Cabin lighting inside is perfect, not to dark or too bright which is the case with many cabins. From the external view to inside the cabin it looks very, very good.... External lighting is good as well, It helps to use those "Signal Lights" on the ground to give a more central focus on the runway, but there is no runway turnoff lights. There are four (yes four) retractable lights in two above front gear strut and two inboard on each wing. You are required to extend the lights before switching them on and vice-versa. There are also two taxi lights on the front gear strut. Beam spread is excellent. Navigation and strobe lighting is standard and the tail logo illumination work very nicely as well. As noted the cabin looks great in flight from the external view. ______________________________________________________________________ Liveries One blank and seven liveries in Belavia, Aeroflot current and Soviet era, Orenair, S7 (early not the lime green version), A great development livery in FACT, a government military livery, URAL Airlines and UT Air. All are exceptional and there are two more in Yakutsk and Alrosa liveries that are painted but not listed anywhere yet. Summary In one word "Manuals". There is a manual (In English and Russian) but only 10 pages and nothing explaining the switchgear and systems, There is an authentic Russian manual (In English and Russian) but it is long and wordy and more about performance than explaining how to actually use the aircraft. There are two good videos but if you watch them them and then trying to follow the procedures they will eventually send your eyes into a blur and you get lost in the complex list of procedures required to set the aircraft up and actually fly it... No doubt in time you will work through all this and understand and use the aircraft well. The systems and the procedures are excellent and very deep in their use, so this Tu-154 is a very good simulation and there is absolutely no doubt about that. But the learning curve is quite steep, but the rewards will be great to huge if you do master the aircraft. In every area it is a great aircraft. Some 3d work is slightly old fashioned coming off say a western machine (I came straight over from the CRJ-200), but in other and most areas this is a sensational aircraft... The menus and set up ideas are excellent, as is that almost every dial, gauge and switchgear is authentic and works as it should. So you get a lot of Soviet aircraft here as the real Tu154M reg. No 85748 from Belavia Airlines was used as a reference for this aircraft. Sounds are also very good and you get a lot of alerts to keep you on your toes. Lighting and the cabin are also highlights and the feel and manual flying feedback was very good and realistic. No doubt these comments will be added to when I understand the systems more and get a few routes under my belt, I am really looking forward to that and that notes on how much I really like this aircraft. In time I would note it can a crossover machine for X-Plane. Russian aircraft are very much a desired taste, but this aircraft in the Tu-154 is very good and worthwhile getting to know and use regularly though out the year and not just now and again, and I certainly think you find it a very rewarding aircraft to use and fly, It is different, but a very nice different as is the original and famous iconic Tupolev Tu-154M. _____________________________________________________________________________________ The Tupolev Tu-154M by Felis Planes is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Tupolev Tu-154 Your Price: $45.00 Features: Comprehensive Systems Very comprehensive systems, made as close as possible to the real Tu-154 Working TCAS with TA/RA mode Working EGPWS with "Terrain ahead" warning mode Resizable 2D panels Detailed modeling Fully functional 3D cockpit Fully animated external model with ground crew Dynamic HDR lighting Menu System Nav menu Service menu: Load / Weight Management Doors. ladders, ground equipment Views, Checklist, etc .. Bilingual cockpit Switch from Russian to English with one click Requirements: X-Plane 10.40+ (any edition) running in 64bit mode 64 bit Windows or Mac 1Gb VRAM - 2GbVRAM Recommended 1Gb HD Space _____________________________________________________________________________________ Installation and documents: Download for the Tu-154M is 746.70meg and the unzipped file deposited in the "Heavy Metal" X-Plane folder at 1.03gb. The plugin for the KLN 90B GPS systen can be loaded here: http://felis-planes.com/upload/tu154/KLN90_Tu154.ZIP The manual to use the KLN 90B can be downloaded here: KLN 90B Manual.pdf Install is easy in that you install the Folder KLN90 in the "Custom Avionics" Folder of the Tu-154, and in your main X-Plane root folder you deposit the KLN 90B Navdata folder. A final install is the "FMS Plans" folder (in the Output folder) and that is deposited in the X-Plane Output/FMS plans folder. Documentation with the Tu-154 are Russian Papka tables An original TU-154M Flight Manual (performance) A Russian and English Aircraft Limitations (maximum and minimum) for engines, speeds and weights. A Russian and English Aircraft Limitations Tech-manual (10 Pages) Some notes on how to use the aircraft and the autopilot have been uploaded here: navigation tutor.rtf _____________________________________________________________________________________ Review by Stephen Dutton 30th May 2016 Copyright©2016: X-PlaneReviews Review System Specifications: Computer System: Windows - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 8 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - GeForce GTX 980/SSE2 - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.45 Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini Scenery or Aircraft - UUEE - Moscow Sheremetyevo XP by Drzewiecki Design (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$22.00