Supersonic Tupolev Tu-144: 50 years since the first flight

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Pe December 31 1968 a new chapter in the history of civil aviation has begun to be written. 50 years ago, the first supersonic passenger plane rose from the ground. Supersonic Tupolev YOU-NOTHING opened the way for new aviation ideals.

The design was built in the Soviet Union under the leadership of the Tupolev design office, led by Alexei Tupolev. It was released to the public in January 1962.


The Tupolev Tu-144 prototype first flew on 31 December 1968, somewhere near Moscow, two months before the first flight operated by Concorde. On 26 May 1970, Tupolev Tu-144 was the first commercial aircraft to exceed Mach 2 speed.

Tupolev TU-144 aka Concordski, as it was recognized in the West, did not enjoy much success. 16 units were built (prototype Tu-144 - 68001, pre-production Tu-144S - 77101, 9 units Tu-144S - 77102-77110, 5 units Tu-144D - 77111-77115), but in different technological configurations.

Compared to Concorde, Tupolev Tu-144 did not fly much. The Tupolev Tu-144 passenger fleet was stopped on the ground after only 55 flights. A single Tupolev Tu-144 aircraft was used for cargo until 1983, during which time 102 registered commercial flights.


Tupolev Tu-144 was a plane far too difficult to be efficient in operation, with outdated technology on board and a less refined design than the Concorde.

From the very first flights, Tupolev Tu-144 had a series of problems that required new directions of development and the problems persisted. Unfortunately, a Tupolev YOU-NOTHING collapsed at Paris Air Show from 1973.

After the project was canceled, Tu-144 was used by the Soviet space program to train the pilots of the Buran space shuttle.

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