Civil Aviation

TUPOLEV Tu-144 SUPERSONIC TRANSPORT AIRCRAFT RESTORED

The work on Tu-144 exterior has been completed while that on the aircraft cabin is yet to begin

According to News in Flight, the first stage of restoration of Tupolev Tu-144 supersonic transport aircraft (SST) has recently been completed. As the photo in this post shows the aircraft stands near the building of Kazan Aviation Institute (KAI) on Chetaeva Street in Russia, where it will be displayed for educational purpose.

As revealed by a spokesman of the company in charge of the project during the ceremony that marked the completion of first stage of the restoration, the work on the aircraft exterior has been completed while that on the aircraft cabin is yet to begin.

The Tupolev Tu-144 (Russian: Tyполев Ту-144; NATO reporting name: Charger) is a retired jet airliner and commercial SST. It is one of only two SSTs to enter commercial service, the other being the Anglo-French Concorde. The aircraft was conceived during the Cold War by Tupolev design bureau, headed by Alexei Tupolev, and manufactured by the Voronezh Aircraft Production Association in Voronezh, Russia. It conducted 55 passenger flights, at an average service altitude of 16,000 metres (52,000 ft) while cruising at a speed of around 2,000 kilometres per hour (1,200 mph, or Mach 1.6).

The prototype first flew on Dec. 31, 1968 near Moscow, two months before the first flight of Concorde. The Tu-144 first went supersonic on Jun. 5 1969, and on May 26, 1970 became the first commercial transport to exceed Mach 2. A Tu-144 crashed in 1973 at the Paris Air Show, delaying its development. The aircraft was introduced into passenger service on Nov. 1, 1977, almost two years after Concorde. In May 1978, another Tu-144 (an improved version, named Tu-144D) crashed on 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 plane until 1983. The Tu-144 was later used by the Soviet space program to train pilots of the Buran spacecraft, and by NASA for supersonic research.

The Tu-144 was 215 feet, 6 inches long and 42 feet, 2 inches high with a wingspan of 94 feet, 6 inches. The aircraft was constructed mostly of light aluminum alloy with titanium and stainless steel on the leading edges, elevons, rudder, and the under-surface of the rear fuselage.

Photo credit: News in Flight

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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