Tu-144 and Concorde (was: Re: Tu-144LL)

Date:         18 Apr 98 00:49:31 
From:         Jonathan Thornburg <bkis@island.net>
Organization: U of British Columbia Physics
References:   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
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In article <airliners.1998.589@ohare.Chicago.COM>,
David Jones <d.jones@barnsley.ac.uk> described the Tupolev Tu-144LL
(a development of the late-60s and early-70s Tu-144):
| It was the product of industrial espionage on the part of the Soviets
| (spying on the Anglo-French Concorde project)

Although the Tu-144 product certainly _benefited_ from industrial
espionage against the Concorde (and from publicly available information
on the US B-58 and B-70 bomber projects), to describe it as "the product"
of industrial espionage is seriously inaccurate -- the majority of the
Tu-144's engineering was home-grown in the USSR.

For further details on the Tu-144, IMHO the book

	Howard Moon
	"Soviet SST: The Technopolitics of the Tupolev-144"
	Orion Books, New York, 1989, xii + 276 pp
	ISBN 0-517-56601-X (hardcover)

is pretty good.  (Moon discusses Tu-144 industrial espionage in some
detail in chapter 4, and also explicitly compares the Tu-144 and the
Concorde in chapters 7 and 8.)

| and was effectively
| withdrawn when one example crashed at the 1973 Paris Air Show, killing
| the crew and several French villagers; ironically the French and Soviet
| authorities colluded in a cover up, the French because it was one of
| their Mirage jets that caused the crash, and the Soviets because the 144
| suffered structural failure during its evasive manoeuvering.

As well as Moon's book, another reference on the crash was pointed
out in article <airliners.1997.2932@ohare.Chicago.COM> by our esteemed
moderator Karl Swartz <kls@ohare.Chicago.COM>:
> An excellent writeup of the crash,
> with an unbiased comparison of several versions of the sequence of
> events, is at http://aeroweb.lucia.it/~agretch/RAFAQ/Tu-144.html.

But the Tu-144's commercial failure was basically due to economics
and insufficient range, not safety:  Due to its less sophisticated
engines, the Tu-144 was even more fuel-hungry than the Concorde, and
it lacked the range to fly the major transatlantic routes non-stop
with reasonable payloads.

| It's also ironic in that the US played a large part in killing Concorde
| as a world player,

The Concorde's commercial mostly-failure was (is) due to high operating
cost (poor fuel economy), not US interference.  I suppose you _could_
say that the US's profligate oil consumption played a large part in
the rise of OPEC, which in turn raised oil prices and made both the
Concorde and the Tu-144 uneconomical, but that seems a pretty indirect
and unintentional chain of causation.

Interesting question:  Can anyone post actual numbers for the Concorde's
operating cost and how it breaks down into fuel, crew, maintainence,
and other?  People have posted similar numbers for other aircraft in
the past (eg article <airliners.1993.153@ohare.Chicago.COM> for the
767-200/300, article <airliners.1997.2847@ohare.Chicago.COM> for the
737-100/200 and 727-200); it would be nice to make comparisons with the
Concorde using real-world numbers.

| only to jump into bed with the Russian government 20
| years later. Or am I being bitter?

It's not really "jumping into bed":  With the collapse of the Russian
economy and the Ruble, the Tu-144 is a bargin-priced way for Boeing to
get (a) good PR, and (b) some interesting SST flight data.  I don't
think either Boeing or Tupolev has any serious plans for a near-term
next generation SST.

--
-- Jonathan Thornburg <bkis@island.net> (personal E-mail)
   U of British Columbia / Physics Dept / <thornbur@theory.physics.ubc.ca>
   "If you are either rich or a camel, you should, as a purely practical
    calculation, enjoy life now [rather than in the hereafter]."
						 -- John Kenneth Galbraith