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Tu-144

The TupolevTu-144

is a retired jet airliner and commercial supersonic transport aircraft. The design was a product of the Tupolev design bureau, headed by Alexei Tupolev, of the Soviet Union and manufactured by the Voronezh Aircraft Production Association in Voronezh, Russia. It conducted 55 passenger service flights, at an average service altitude of 16,000 metres (52,000 ft) and cruised at a speed of around 2,000 kilometres per hour (1,200 mph) (Mach 1.6).

The prototype first flew on 31 December 1968 near Moscow, two months before the first flight of the Concorde. The Tu-144 first went supersonic on 5 June 1969, and on 26 May 1970 became the first commercial transport to exceed Mach 2. A Tu-144 crashed in 1973 at the Paris Air Show, delaying its further development. The aircraft was introduced into passenger service on 1 November 1977, almost two years after Concorde. In May 1978, another Tu-144 (an improved version, named Tu-144D) crashed on a test flight while being delivered, and the passenger fleet was permanently grounded after only 55 scheduled flights. The aircraft remained in use as a cargo aircraft until 1983, by which point a total of 102 commercial flights had been completed. The Tu-144 was later used by the Soviet space program to train pilots of the Buran spacecraft, and by NASA for supersonic research.