Re: Concorde's other customers (There were none in the end!)

Date:         10 Dec 97 04:05:03 
From:         westin* (Stephen H. Westin)
Organization: Program of Computer Graphics -- Cornell University
References:   1 2 3 4
Next article
View raw article
  or MIME structure (James Matthew Weber) writes:
> Aeroflot actually fly the TU-144 in domestic service for about a year.
> I think the comments ignore a major problem with Concord and the
> TU-144. For the Eastern Block, the number of destinations where the
> aricraft was useful was very limited. While the Cubans would probably
> have liked it, it lacked the range to get anywhere where the speed
> advantage was useful. The Concorde (presumably the TU144 had very
> similar range characteristics)

Nope. The TU-144 had significantly *shorter* range than Concorde. I
think range was around 2,000 miles. This made it more of an exercise
in national prestige than a workable airplane. After all, what good is
a supersonic airliner that won't cross any major ocean?

I believe (though I don't understand the details why) that this
difference had to do with the turbofan engines on the TU-144. The
non-bypass engines in Concorde are actually *more* efficient at
supersonic cruise.

> makes it across the Atlantic from Paris
> or London ro NY, Washington or Miami, but that is about all it can do.
> About the only place the TU-144 could be flown was from Eastern
> Europe/Soviet Union to the Siberia. It couldn't reach North America or
> Asian destinations.
> My own belief is the lack of any destinations where anyone could fly
> the TU-144 had a lot to do with why no other airlines flew it, and
> Aeroflot certainly didn't fly it for long.

And the tendency to fall out of the sky had something to do with it,
too :). I believe this had to do with the low-speed characteristics of
the delta wing. At low speeds, Concorde (and presumably the TU-144)
needs *more* power to maintain altitude as airspeed declines, so it's
fundamentally unstable. Concorde's autothrottle system compensates for
this, but is a bit beyond the Soviet technology of the time,
presumably leaving it up to the quick reflexes of the pilot.

As east-west relations began to warm a bit, the Soviets tried to hire
Lucas to adapt Concorde's engine controls to the TU-144, until someone
in Britain observed that its NK-144 engines were shared with the
Backfire bomber, and figured they would just have to sort the whole
thing out on their own.

-Stephen H. Westin
Any information or opinions in this message are mine: they do not
represent the position of Cornell University or any of its sponsors.