Russian airliners want to remove Tu-134 aircraft from service instead of equipping them with new safety systems, a Russian deputy transport minister said on Tuesday.
Russia's Transport Ministry and the Tupolev aircraft design bureau recommended last month grounding the nation's fleet of Tupolev Tu-134 airliners following a crash on June 20 in northern Russia that killed 47 people.
Deputy Transport Minister Valery Okulov said that equipping Tu-134 with Automatic Air Collision Avoidance System (Auto-ACAS) and Terrain Awareness and Warning System would cost $200,000 per plane. This is approximately the price of the unmodified planes.
"From January 1, most of the [Tu-134] aircraft will not be flying," Okulov added.
The decision comes despite a statement earlier this week by the Interstate Aviation Committee, Russia's air accident investigatory body, which said that the Tu-134 which crashed was fully serviceable until the moment of impact.
Most Tu-134 have been withdrawn from service because of non-compliance with international noise regulations and low fuel economy rather than for safety reasons.
The Tu-134 entered service in 1967 and production ceased in 1980.
The Transport Ministry says that of the 852 Tu-134s built, 179 remain, of which 90 are still flying. Of those, 28 belong to UTair Express, one of Russia's largest airlines.