Tupolev 144 aircraft – photo album
Title: Tupolev 144 aircraft
Author:by Alexander Zatuchniy(Author)
Publisher: Moscow, “Russkie vityazi”, 2015, 552 pages
The Tupolev Tu-144 (NATO reporting name “Charger”) is a retired jet airliner, which was the world’s first commercial supersonic transport aircraft (SST). It is one of only two SSTs to enter commercial service, the other being the Anglo-French Concorde. The design was constructed in the Soviet Union under the direction of the Tupolev design bureau, headed by Alexei Tupolev. Throughout its 55-flight operational history, the Tu-144 flew at an average service altitude of 16,000 metres (52,000 ft) and cruised at a speed of around 2,000 kilometres per hour (1,200 mph).
The prototype first flew on 31 December 1968 near Moscow, two months before the first flight of Concorde. The Tu-144 first went supersonic on 5 June 1969, and on 26 May 1970 became the first commercial transport to exceed Mach 2. A Tu-144 crashed in 1973 at the Paris Air Show, delaying its further development. The aircraft was introduced into passenger service on 1 November 1977, almost two years after Concorde, because of budget restrictions. In May 1978, another Tu-144 (an improved version, named Tu-144D) crashed in a test flight while being delivered, and the passenger fleet was permanently grounded after only 55 scheduled flights. The aircraft remained in use as a cargo aircraft until 1983, by which point a total of 102 commercial flights had been completed. The Tu-144 was later used by the Soviet space program to train pilots of the Buran spacecraft, and by NASA for supersonic research.