Re: Whatever happened to Tupelov TU-144 SST "Charger"?

Date:         04 Jun 99 00:59:21 
From:         Lukas Lusser <lusser@ubaclu.unibas.ch>
Organization: Europainstitut Basel
References:   1
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to my knowledge, the following Tu-144 exist or existed until recent times:

CCCP-77106: On display at museum in Moskau Monino
CCCP-77108: On display at museum in Samara Smys(lenska?) airport - sorry,
don't have the name at hand
CCCP-?????: On display at Ulyanovsk Aviation Museum
CCCP-77112: Stored with Tupolev at Moscow Zhukovsky Airport
CCCP-77115: Stored with Tupolev at Moscow Zhukovsky Airport
(all in full Aeroflot colors).

RA-77114: Current with Tupolev/Boeing/NASA joint research project, based
Zhukovsky.

CCCP-77113 which was also stored for many years at Zhukovsky (a.k.a.
Ramenskoye Test Base) has been broken up shortly before the MosAero Show
of 1997, with its tail lying on its side and the centerbox with wings
and main landing gears still attached present in front of Tupolev's
hangar (quite a sad sight) in August 1997.

You'll find some pictures of some of the planes mentionned above on my
Guide to Russian Airliners at http://www.bird.ch/russians (as some nice
guy already pointed out in the specs you downloaded - thanks!)

Correcting the latter source: There are two known crashes of Tu-144s.
The first one appeared during a presentation of the airliner at the
Paris Air Show in 1973 involving CCCP-77102.

The official reason given (by the French) is that one of the
characteristic canard wings aft the cockpit broke loose, punctured the
fuel tank and led to an explosion. Rumors that a French "spy plane" that
wanted to do some shooting of the competitor came too close and thus
forced the crew to engage in an evasive manoeuver leading to a loss of
controll over the aircraft are persistent. These rumors seem at least
not to be contrary to the video tapes of the fatal flight which show a
sudden and very abrupt leveling off of the climbing plane. Some seconds
later it looks like the entire fuselage of the plane starts breaking
apart just in front of the wing (due to stress?), immediately followed
by an explosion (is there some web source where the footage can be
accessed?).

After modifications, the Tu-144 did seemingly fly (more or less)
regularily for awhile: First on pure mail flights from Moscow to Alma
Ata (today's Almaty, Kasachstan), from 1975 to 1977. According to my
sources, the 144 then went into passenger service for a short period. On
May 23, 1978, a second crash occured - following an onboard fire on a
test flight of CCCP-77111 - which led to the retirement of the
"Concordsky". The last scheduled flight is reported to have taken place
on June 1, 1978.

All this information has of course to be based on good faith regarding
the objectivity of the sources. These are actually (as I don't speak
Russian) aviation encyclopediae and type books printed in the 70s and
80s in the German Democratic Republic (Eastern Germany) - In as far as
the information they contain is verifyable, the books seem to be
technically correct (no lies, but some ommissions, if you get the
picture), so I assume the info is as reliable as it can get without
speaking to insiders at Tupolev... ; o )

Hope it helps, and have a nice day

Lukas Lusser
editor, jetstream Swiss Aviation Magazine at http:www.jetstream.ch/
Bird Publishing's Ultimate Aviation Marketplace at http://www.bird.ch/
A Guide to Russian Airliners at http://www.bird.ch/russians/