The Tupolev Tu-144 was designed by Tupolev as a Soviet supersonic passenger airliner and was the first commercial supersonic transport in the world. The aircraft performed its first flight in December 1968 and was operated from 1968 until 1999.
On December 31, 1968, the Tu-144 prototype took to the air for the first time from Zhukovsky Airport in Moscow, Russia. On June 5, 1969, the aircraft had its first supersonic flight and on May 26, 1970, it became the first commercial supersonic transport aircraft in the world.
On December 26, 1975, the Tu-144 was introduced to service with Aeroflot from Moscow to Almaty. In 1983, the Tu-144 program was canceled. The Tupolev Design Bureau developed the Tu-144 and sixteen were manufactured in Voronezh, Russia by the Voronezh Aircraft Production Association.
It performed 102 commercial flights with fifty-five passengers on board at 52,000 feet. The aircraft also served in the Soviet space program for training pilots of the Buran spaceplane, and also used for supersonic research by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) up to 1999.
The aircraft was retired from passenger service in 1978 and from commercial service in 1983. On June 26, 1999, the Tu-144 performed its last flight. The aircraft was produced from 1967 to 1983.
The Tu-144 can accommodate three crew members and 150 passengers in flight; eleven first-class and 139 tourist class. It has an external length of 65.7 meters, an external height of 6.8 meters, and a fuselage width of 3.3 meters. The tail height is 12.55 meters and the wheelbase is 20 meters. It has a wingspan of 28.8 meters and a wing area of 506.35 square meters. The aircraft has an empty weight of 99,200 kg, a gross weight of 125,000 kg, a maximum payload of 12,000 kg, and a fuel tank capacity of 93,000 kg. The maximum takeoff weight is 207,000 kg.
The passenger airliner is powered by four Kolesov RD-36-51 or Kuznetsov NK-144 engines. The RD-36-51 is a supersonic turbojet engine with an axial compressor while the NK-144 is an afterburning turbofan engine. The Tu-144 has a maximum speed of 1,300 knots and a cruise speed of 1,147 knots. It has a travel range of 3,500 nautical miles. It can fly up to 66,000 feet and can climb at a rate of 9,800 feet per minute.