The three-engine Tupolev 154 first flew passengers in 1972 and has since become a workhorse of fleets in Russia, the former Soviet bloc and China. The jet can carry between 156 and 180 passengers and has a range of 2,400 miles at a maximum speed of 560 mph. 

Some 935 of the planes were believed to have been produced at the factory in Samara, Russia. 

Bashkirian Airlines has eight Tu-154s in its fleet of 39 Soviet-designed planes. It mainly serves Russia and former Soviet republics, with some charter flights to other destinations. 

A Tu-154 crashed in the Siberian city of Irkutsk last July, killing all 143 aboard. Another crashed on takeoff from Irkutsk in 1994, killing 124 people. The plane reportedly was overloaded. 

A Tu-154 belonging to China Southwest Airlines crashed in China in 1999, killing all 61 people aboard. 

A German-owned Tu-154 collided with a U.S. Air Force C-141 off the coast of Namibia in 1998, killing 33 people, and in 1997 a Tajik Tu-154 crashed en route to the United Arab Emirates, killing 85.