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Tupolev TU-144

Tupolev TU-144 (see video gallery)

The Tupolev had its first flight on 31st Dec 1968, a few months before Concorde 001 made its maiden flight on 2nd March 1969. The design was unveiled in January 1962 and a total of 16 were produced between 1968-1984.  The Tupolev Design Bureau was headed by Alexei Tupolev.

The 16 Tu-144s are classified below:

  • the prototype Tu-144, registration number 68001
  • a pre-production Tu-144S, number 77101
  • nine production Tu-144S, numbers 77102 to 77110
  • five Tu-144D models, numbers 77111 to 77115

The TU-144 hit Mach 2 on 15 July 1969 and had a maximum cruising speed of 1,510 mph (2,430 kmh), or Mach 2.29. This was faster than Concorde but was only achieved with the afterburner turned on which meant heavier fuel consumption and a much shorter range of 1,600 miles (2,500 km).  As supersonic flight was limited over land due to the noisy sonic boom, this limited the commercial effectiveness of the TU-144 over seas. The London and Paris to New York routes travelled by Concorde were around 3,500 miles and regulations called for fuel reserves to be available upon landing in case of last minute emergencies and flight plan changes.

Nine subsequent TU-144S models had a a cruising speed of 1,200 mph (2,000 kmh), or Mach 1.88. This also gave it a longer range of 1,910 miles (3,080 km), but still less than half the range of Concorde. A further six were TU-144D variants had the ability to cruise at a comparable speed to Concorde at 1,320 mph (2,124 km), or Mach 2.0. The new engines also gave the Tu144D a much longer range, more than double the original model at 4,000 miles (6,500 km). Plans for an aircraft with a range in excess of 4,300 miles (7,000 km) were never implemented

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