Why You Wouldn’t Want to Fly On The Soviet Concorde – The TU-144 Story

Why You Wouldn’t Want to Fly On The Soviet Concorde – The TU-144 Story


The Concorde could rip across the
Atlantic in just over three hours, twice as fast as any modern-day airliner. And
you’d do it in style while sipping champagne. Wait a minute… This isn’t
Concorde! This is the only other supersonic jet to
ever carry commercial passengers. No, this isn’t Concorde. This is the
Soviet Union’s Tupolev 144. And yes, it looks like the Concorde
but flying on this thing was nothing like the Concorde. The Tu-144 was kind of
like the Concord’s crazy older sister. She was loud, uncomfortable and a little
dangerous. But the 144 story is definitely worth telling.
It clearly knocked off a lot of the Concord’s design – just look at – it but it
actually did some things better, like carry more passengers, it even flew
faster. But ultimately the 144’s story is about faking it. About deceiving the
world. In the 1960’s the race to build a supersonic passenger jet, well it was
more than about just flying fast, it was about asserting superiority for both the
Soviets and the West. And the race to be the first actually started as a
three-way between the Americans with their half-baked Boeing 2707, the joint
British-French Concorde, and the Soviets with their Tu-144. The Americans ruined
their shot by tying themselves up in bureaucracy and cost overruns, this put
the Concorde project firmly in the lead. The Soviets who had more primitive
technology had a lot of catching up to do, so they relied on good old Soviet
ingenuity.. oh and they stole a whole bunch from the Concorde program. Early on Soviet spies made out with over 90,000 technical documents on the Concorde and other aircraft so they caught up to the Concorde program and the 144 took flight
two months before Concorde It’s obvious the Concorde was designed
around passenger experience. Journalists marveled at how quiet and smooth
supersonic flight was and how flight attendants had no trouble chatting up
passengers while they served martinis. In the 144? Well caviar and champagne were also brought out, but Western journalists fixated on the cramped seats, window
shades that would suddenly drop without being pulled, and that some of the
bathrooms weren’t even working. The 144’s more primitive engines and cooling
system worked together to produce a sound so loud that passengers couldn’t
talk to one another. Instead they had to pass around handwritten notes and
playing pass the note with other passengers must have killed some of the
opulence. Not that flying on the 144 was ever going to be a normal experience. The plane only ever saw passenger service on a single lonely route between
Moscow and Almaty, Kazakhstan. The thing is the 144’s engines burned so much
fuel, it couldn’t actually fly much further, it couldn’t even cross the
Soviet Union. Compare that to the Concorde, its route spanned continents
and oceans and the Tu-144 flew only once a week, even though there were seven more certified and ready for service. This shows how confident Soviet leaders were
in the 144. Out of 102 scheduled flights there were 226
mechanical failures, 80 of which were serious enough to delay or canceled the
flight altogether. The possibility of 144 crashing with passengers on board was a huge political risk. From the very beginning the one full force
air worthiness was in serious question. It crashed in front of thousands of
spectators during the 1973 Paris Air Show. Then again in 1978 when a cargo version went down after a fuel line rupture. And
yet again in 1981 one suffered an engine explosion, forcing an emergency landing.
The problem was the Tu-144 had clearly been rushed in its development. Getting
this thing built before the Concorde was more important for the Soviets than
actually building it well, and the 144’s engineers had fewer resources and
inferior technologies. But still, you gotta hand it to them for actually
getting it done. The Concorde’s design team had state-of-the-art rolls-royce
olympus engines with computer-controlled engine inlets that allowed for something called super cruise. So once Concorde reached
supersonic her fuel thirsty after burners could be
switched off while still maintaining supersonic. Tu-144 engineers had to make do with engines that needed continuous afterburners to maintain supersonic. The
Concorde had a sophisticated wing optimized for both supersonic and
low-speed flying, the Tu-144’s wing was really only good for supersonic, so pilots had to land the 144 at higher speeds, making for brutally
hard landings that even required a parachute. The Soviets worked around
their wing limitations by designing canards, little deploy-able wings at the
front of the aircraft which would improve low-speed stability. But all the
innovation on both sides of the Iron Curtain couldn’t overcome the reality
that supersonic travel was just too expensive. In the capitalist West you
could price Concorde tickets at 5 or 6 times what a regular flight would cost,
so the Concorde became about glitz and glamour, but on the other side of the
Iron Curtain things were a little bit more awkward. Who exactly in the
Communist Soviet Union was supposed to fly aboard the Tu-144? The price of a
ticket was set at just 37 rubles, not much more than you’d expect to pay on a
regular flight and not nearly enough to cover operational costs. The 14 Concordes that entered service found a small niche serving celebrities and the rich, but
even with that Concorde itself was still a commercial failure. The French and the
British had poured billions into developing it even as they knew very
early on that they’d never be able to sell hundreds of Concordes needed to
recoup development costs. But the 144 without the same premium niche to fill
on the other side of the Iron Curtain, could only ever be used as a propaganda
tool and a prestige project. The Concorde would ferry passengers for 27 years up
until it was retired in 2003. The Tu-144? Well it was retired from regular passenger
service not even a full year after it started.

100 Comments on "Why You Wouldn’t Want to Fly On The Soviet Concorde – The TU-144 Story"


  1. The last I heard we wouldn't wanna fly Boeing 737 MAX737 because that piece of shit held together by chewing gum

    Reply

  2. Concordskiy was no good because USSR couldn't still fast enough.
    PS. Vlad…. the Lenin's expression was. The Capitalist will give us the rope on which we will hang them.
    Looks like in this situation we gave them a rope…

    Reply

  3. Interestingly Russians have built supersonic airliners but not a Russian version of SR71 spy plane. We are still waiting for a domestic supersonic airliner. Kind of shows where US has its priorities
    If a high speed train or an accessible healthcare could be weaponized we would already have them!

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  4. Any manufacturing and processing products of Soviet Russia, whether it is military products or civilian products, are all shoddy and the accident rate is extremely high. In short, the Russian manufacturing industry is definitely backward garbage.

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  5. Why be so snobbish, dear American friends? After all, you dropped out of the race altogether, and there has never been a working American supersonic passenger jet – only Russian and then European ones. That was even worse for you than the space race where the Russians had been the first to launch the Sputnik and then the first man in space. So, why don't you shove your infantile "blyat" jokes up your fat self-esteem and go Ford yourselves?

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  6. But u forgot to say, that concorde killed more passengers in crash than tu 144. And russians now have the best military airplanes in the world.

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  7. It's equal parts hilarious and astounding that the plan to make the Soviet union spend itself out of existence worked sooooo well.

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  8. canards are not foreplanes. foreplanes are foreplanes. 'canard' is the configuration of wing and foreplane. its been wrong so often that almost everyone calls the foreplanes 'canards'.

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  9. "You gotta hand it to them for actually getting it done". Probably because if they didn't, they'd all be shot.

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  10. Yes, but you can also read early cancellation of TU-144 program as a right decision considering all the negatives of passenger supersonic jets of the era, while Concorde was continuing its intelectual and physical agony for many years. Ruskies have achieved their objective, they were again first, and this way it was their success. They much faster got their ducks in the row realizing that with present day technology passenger supersonic travels are not practical, and made the right call. One cannot dismiss that. Concorde on the other hand was dragging their project until the famous tragedy.

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  11. Typical Russian reaction is "we can build the same only better and a lot cheaper. (Usually) A cardboard cutting would have a better chance at success.

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  12. Everybody knows that S-400 Missile Defense System is way better than western shit systems like THAAD. It's only propaganda where western countries are good at..

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  13. Thanks for this video. I didn't know all that about the Russian supersonic plane, especially that it operated only for one year while Concorde operated 27 years!
    I lived near an airport and I remember Concorde was allowed to land at only a few airports – too noisy! Of course, it gulped fuel like crazy – just when oil costs were rising like crazy. It was the wrong time for such a plane. I wonder if it would have done better today.

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  14. Tu-144 was created before Concorde, its been in development before Concorde too. Everything except noise was better in Tu-144.
    Concorde was an inferior copy of Tu-144 but could never match the original.

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  15. Didn’t someone “find” some Concorde plans which had certain flaws in them, take them to the USSR and oops, well maybe they weren’t flaws, there’s a story in their somewhere

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  16. why don't i want to fly ae killer concorde? tu144 never killed any passenger! ..and concorde kill 113 ! …..

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  17. The stealing of the technology is but more on the same fake allegations against the Soviet Union, as usual. They flew first and faster, and simply it was not cost efficient because of the huge consumption of fuel and because of the lack of need of such a "stylish" thing when the scope was put on looking for a better living for most, not for just a tiny minority, even with their so-called nomenclature and bureaucracy. Still, it flew for several years both with passengers and cargo from Moscow to Alma-Atá, in Kazakhstan, pretty much succesfully. And again, they had more accidents than Concorde, which is true, but they achived their technological goals without the need of copying that amount of engineering techniques.

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  18. El TU-144 y el Concorde vendrían a ser como un amante con un miembro grande pero precoz, y un amante con un miembro normal pero aguantador y además cariñoso (por lo del lujo en la cabina de pasajeros).

    Reply

  19. Do your homework dude! The ruskies introduced double delta back in the 1941. Their TU-144D is the perfected double-delta design, unlike the Concorde, being the integral subosonic-supersonic optimized design. The TU-144D has aerodinamically-wise wider anvelope of flight speeds and has more manuverability. The russians didn't copy anything. It's the french who made that. They took the Bartini's integral lifting body-wing design. Also, with introduce of the canards, the Tu-144D had better low-speed performance, and lower takeoff and landing speeds. The russans made several mistakes in their design (not those that people mostly speak about): 1. their on-board air conditioner was noisy and less-efficient. That's the reason for being noisy. At the supersonic speed you can't hear the motors and the exhaust noise. 2. The airplain's Al-Li panels were too-large for such a large temperature difference between in-flight and on-ground stages. However, those panels were something extremely new in the aircraft-building industry, and on the TU-160 they became a normal feature. The goal was to make production of the aircraft faster. However, the Tu-144D was in a need for retirement much faster due to more progressive material fatigue. Those large panels were not a mature technology back then, but on the Tu-160, they were perfected. 3. The USSR's doctrine was that every civil aircraft needs to cover also military obligations, meaning that the Tu-144D would be the reconnaissance aircraft. This meant that the engines would cover some military demands. This killed the aircraft's economy, because the engines had more agressive throttle response, and were resistant to numerous min-max throttle repeatability, and much more power at the afterburner mode. There was no need for using afterburners while flying supersonic. The only benefit is that the aircraft could cruise at some 300-400km/h greater speed than Concorde had, and had a 2km higher cruising altitude. They also used nitrogen to make aircraft both safer on-board (helps out in fire preventing), and more powerfull while using afterburner. The major mistake is that this goes only for the military aircraft. The civil aircraft is not suitable for spreading the gross odour at the airports. So overall, the TU-144D wasn't really a competitive aircraft to anything, but it showed greater speed, altitude, flight stability, maneuverability, lower approach speed, and had a need for shorter runway at takeoff and landing. The aircraft lacked economy, it had unbearable on-board noise, and had a vry poor reliability of on-board equipment.

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  20. what a laugh … another brit Goebbels style "Initiative" hit … lest this fool might forget it was the ugly looking brit designed Concorde that was dangerous, ultimately killing 113 innocent people …. that never happened with the Soviet designed plane on which I once flew and I will bet this fool never set foot inside either plane. What is it about pontificated mi5/6 clones that gets up ordinary peoples noses ? F*** Off back to your sewer in britland Blad

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  21. If it looks similiar, it doesn't mean it's a knockoff. It's as much of a knockoff as, say, B777 is to A330. Sure, who doesn't use competitive reconnaissance? But knockoff? No.

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  22. I could never understand why BAC Filton in Bristol made no public issue of this at the time as a lot of the Concorde data must have been stolen by staff & then sold to the Russians which is technically treason. Embarassment I suppose.

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  23. The Russians or Soviet won because they designed and built their own all alone whereas as always the British need the French – two countries to be able to do it. Show me the the British rockets that can take folk to the cloud not to mention space that the Russians has been doing since mote than 5 decades.

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  24. Both planes were about proving & refining cold war technology.
    Some of the old AVRO engineers who designed the brilliant Avro ARROW for Canada, crossed the Atlantic to work on the Concorde.
    The Soviets, with all their abilities to get information through spies, were outfoxed by the British, who planted incorrect aerodynamic research & developement data for them to copy, not helping the "Concordski".
    But most of all, the time honoured number 1 rule in aerospace developement of any kind is :
    DON'T RUSH THINGS.
    100% of the times that R&D, safety, or anything else is rushed to make a competitive deadline for sales or pride, planes go down, & the bigger they are, the harder they fall.
    They didn't mention that the loss of a Concorde upon takeoff in France in July of 2000 pre·emted the retirement of Concorde, & that was likely without having done anything wrong.
    That's how tight the engineering /safety /maintainence margins had to be on these Mach 2 behemoths, even without built in problems from rushed developement.
    The Americans eventually bought a surviving Concordski for SST testing purposes, as they too were in the game, having lost one of its huge, non production "Valkyrie" supersonic bombers in an unlikely, & trajic in air photo shoot gone wrong.
    The wings on the Valkyrie produced mammoth vortices that weren't fully understood & respected by all pilots when a fighterplane lost control in perhaps a backeddy of turbulence immediatly behind the beast, tumbling over its twin tails helplessly in a critical collision eventually resulting in its crashing 2 min. later.

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  25. I'm sorry but why did they have a cargo supersonic jet? The reason that supersonic jets were made was because people wanted to travel around the world faster but cargo doesn't really care how long it takes they are not living people.

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  26. You know, it’s funny but Aeroflot is one of the biggest airlines in the world, and they have an excellent safety record. The big question facing western governments is this: should we end subsidies? If we do, the price of airline tickets will double, or triple.

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  27. personally I think the Russians did a pretty cool job on the design of that plane, its very distinctive and we all know Russians make better supersonic jet planes even up to date

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  28. Concorde flew twice a week to teheran,iran, which seems to be deliberatly ommited by the graphics of this program.hence,the highly biased report.its funny how even mentioning iran in a seemingly technical account of events is a difficulty.just feel sorry for the producer of the piece.

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  29. Tu-144 never killed its passengers, while Concorde killed all the passengers 104 aboard in the 2000 Paris crash. You definitely missed that fact in your rather biased video.

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  30. I really ❤️ the Russian music at the intro and at the outro! 🙂🙂🙂🙂🙂🙂🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺🇷🇺

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  31. The Russians faked just about everything they copied and the Chinese copied the Russians, and to this day still do. Point of the statement is never trust anyone one who claims they want to build something under license. They just want access to copy everything and then blame you when it doesn't work because they didn't copy it correctly.

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  32. Thằng này vừa ăn cắp vừa giỏi bắt chước. Bệnh thành tích, thích hênh hoang sập bố nó rồi còn đâu.

    Reply

  33. Another lie and propaganda, the USSR did not steal from the West, and did everything himself, even the additional wings did, and the West did not have enough brains, the Tu-144 in all the characteristics above, just even the USSR quickly realized that topleva on it very much, but he helped give birth to such a bird as the Tu-160.

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  34. Very interesting but WHO is going to invent the next Concorde??? The Muslims who are conquering France??? HAHAHAHA! France is done, its over, the west is dead! Russia will be the ONLY white country in the world and Russia is already making huge progress better than the West. Look at recent S400, Pantsir S1, T14 Armata, BUK M3, TOR M2DT, Sukhoi SU57, Sukhoi S-70 and more. Look at cities like Novosibirsk, Sochi or Krasnodar and how they look. Clearly Russia is thriving while the West is dying under alien occupation.

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  35. Only governments can get away with dumping piles of cash into a program that they know from the start will never succeed. This is why free markets are generally better.

    Reply

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