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The First Supersonic Jetliner
The Russian built Tupolev Tu-144 became the first supersonic passenger aircraft to fly when it had its first flight on December 31, 1968; two months ahead of the first flight for the Concorde SST.
Nicknamed the "Konkordski" by the western press, due to its strong resemblance to the Concorde, the Tu-144 was based largely from stolen Concorde plans. The Soviets had worked feverishly to win the race to produce a supersonic jetliner and had cut corners in the design and production of the aircraft and improvised when details of the Concorde plans were missing or couldn't be deciphered. The aircraft was plagued by deficiencies and had to be radically re-engineered before being shown to the world in 1973.
The debut at the Paris Airshow was marked by the in-flight break-up and crash of the Tu-144. The crash was the result mishandling, not a design or manufacture defect but the damage was done. The Tu-144 entered service in 1977 but due to mechanical problems it was unable to maintain even its modest one due to mechanical problems it was not able to maintain even a modest schedule.
A program beginning in 1993 saw the Tu-144 pulled out of storage for use by Boeing and NASA for high speed research. The aircraft were modified in 1996 to create what NASA called the Tu-144LL Flying Laboratory. Between November 1996 and February 1998 the Tu-144LL flew 19 research flights.
Posted: 2002-02-21 10:37:38 AM
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