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Tupolev Tu-244 / Some Supersonic Wishful Thinking  
User currently offlineTeahan From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 5310 posts, RR: 61
Posted (11 years 3 months 6 days ago) and read 9110 times:

With the mourning of Concorde, now seems the time for such a topic.

Back in July 2000, Tupolev announced that it was re-starting the development of the Tu-244, a Mach 2 airliner capable of transporting 200-300 with a range of 6,200 miles. Maiden flight early in the next decade. A unique feature mentioned was cryogenic (frozen) fuel.

Since then, nothing substantial has come out of it. When Aleksei Tupolev died in 2001, a BBC journalist (who probably remembered the 2000 story) just managed to get the confirmation that Aleksei’s death would not affect the project. The reality is that like so many other Eastern-Block projects, nothing is likely to come of it. Funding of course is the key problem but perhaps credibility also plays a role?

Now for some dreaming:

Imagine Tupolev teaming up with up Embraer and Japanese Industry to build a new SST. Tupolev evidently has the strong supersonic background (Tu-144 and fighter jets), Japanese industry has done a lot of research in the topic and has widespread technical know-how, it would also contribute significant financial credibility. Embraer - subject to the success of current projects - would have a lot of airliner experience, be cash strong, and may by then wish to diversify from only RJs.

If this Team could build a 200-300 seat Mach 2 airliner with reasonable cruising economics at both supersonic and subsonic/transonic speeds (the Concorde was relatively economical supersonic but a dog otherwise), it would open up many new markets. Take London - Los Angeles as an example, it could cross the Atlantic at Mach 2 and then fly the overland segment at Sonic Cruiser style subsonic speed still delivering excellent overall time saving. Another way about it would be developing a Quiet supersonic technology, but that has been much talked about over the past 30 years with no real result.

The market would not be huge, perhaps 500-600 units over a 20-year period. According to Airbus, the A380 is costing US$12 billion to develop and will break even with 250 units. Presuming the development costs of the SST would be double the superjumbo, and that it could be sold with relatively high margin (premium product without direct competitors), we can envisage a break-even level of 500 units.

(Embraer could of course be replaced by Bombardier. I omitted Boeing/Airbus since they might consider such a project too much of a threat to their own product lines and would feign serious involvement before pulling out. Would not be the first time.)

The above is only based on wishful thinking and of course will not happen, but with the passing of Concorde, the world took a step backwards so why not dream for a minute: In what scenario do you envisage the return of a Supersonic airliner?


Goodbye SR-LX MD-11 / 6th of March 1991 to the 31st of October 2004
20 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineLevg79 From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 995 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (11 years 3 months 6 days ago) and read 9059 times:

Tupolev never designed a supersonic jet. TU-144 was build by plans stolen by KGB from people building Concorde at the same time.

A mile of runway takes you to the world. A mile of highway takes you a mile.
User currently offlineTeahan From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 5310 posts, RR: 61
Reply 2, posted (11 years 3 months 6 days ago) and read 9031 times:

@Levg79: I think we have had plenty of debates about that in the past (I'd suggest a search but the function is not currently working). For a start, Tupolev built the TU-22 supersonic bomber which first flew in 1959, 10 years before Concorde.


Goodbye SR-LX MD-11 / 6th of March 1991 to the 31st of October 2004
User currently offlineWGW2707 From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 1197 posts, RR: 34
Reply 3, posted (11 years 3 months 6 days ago) and read 9010 times:

I am definitely in favor of the development of this new aircraft. I personally think that Tupolev would be an excellent company for a major industrial firm to invest in and revitalize. There should be more than just two aircraft manufacturers, and the Boeing vs. Airbus feud (and the didactic rancour of both companies in pushing their respective "new approaches" to aviation) is growing very tiresome.

This supersonic transport, coupled with a complete line of other aircraft, could bring Tupolev back from the edge. There is a definite need for a new SST.


User currently offlineKereru From New Zealand, joined Jun 2003, 873 posts, RR: 45
Reply 4, posted (11 years 3 months 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 8989 times:

Sounds like a Lepricorn story to me? The cost would be horrendous and difficult to recoup, but yes dreams are the beginning as I am sure somebody had a dream when Concorde was started. Eventually Concorde flew and became a reality after many changes and evolved into the first ever successful supersonic airliner(I am not counting the Tu-144). The next step will come one day for what you have described as a supersonic / sonic cruiser when the demand for it will cover the cost of developing such an aircraft. Meanwhile we will have to be content with the present forms of air transport available to us.  Smile/happy/getting dizzy


Good things take Time.
User currently offlineB2707SST From United States of America, joined Apr 2003, 1373 posts, RR: 59
Reply 5, posted (11 years 3 months 6 days ago) and read 8962 times:

The PBS show Nova put out a video called Supersonic Spies about the Concorde/TU-144 rivalry a few years ago - I highly recommend it, especially for some great footage of Concorde, the TU-144, and Boeing's 2707 mockup. Their conclusion was that although the Soviets did try to steal Concorde plans, and were successful in a few cases, Russian methodology, materials, measurement systems, available technology, etc. were too different to call the Tupolev a "copy." Tupolev came up with many original (if not entirely successful) solutions to problems that Concorde's designers dealt with rather effortlessly.

For example, having the specs for Concorde's intakes is a far cry from understanding how and why they work, how they integrate with the rest of the airframe, having the advanced computer system necessary to manage the shocks, and so on. The TU-144 was never able to seriously compete with Concorde because the design lacked the refinements necessary to turn an airworthy plane into a successful one. Certainly the extreme haste of the program had something to do with this, but a lack of technological know-how, especially computing power, was also crucial.

In any case, given the dismal failure of the TU-144 in what was passed off as airline service, Tupolev would have a lot of catching up to do. The TU-160 is an impressive aircraft, but I would guess that the technical and human infrastructure built up for this project have since faded away. The price tag of developing a new SST has been estimated at $30-40 billion over 15 years, plus the usual overruns and contingencies. Even if the market for such a plane were 1000 frames instead of the 500 or so currently forecast, recouping the development cost would be doubtful. Selling the aircraft at high margins assumes the airlines are willing to pay a high premium for it, which in turn assumes that passengers will as well. Market studies by Boeing and Airbus show that passenger willingness to pay more drops off steeply as fare premiums pass 25%. This is not deemed high enough to present a large (>1000 frame) SST market, in particular since many SST passengers would be cannibalized from lucrative first and business class subsonic services.

As sad as Concorde's departure is, in that it constitutes the first great step backward in the history of transport, the tremendous risk and expense of a next-generation SST are not justified. The money and talent are better spent on projects like the 7E7 and the A380. I've spent almost seven years researching the SST and I wish I'd found a better conclusion, but the inactivity of Boeing and Airbus on this front shows that they are equally skeptical.


Keynes is dead and we are living in his long run.
User currently offlineAWspicious From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (11 years 3 months 6 days ago) and read 8938 times:

A very ambitious idea, if nothing else.


User currently offlineTeahan From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 5310 posts, RR: 61
Reply 7, posted (11 years 3 months 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 8823 times:

@B2707SST: Thanks for the information about that video. Found the transcript which makes a rather interesting read here:


Goodbye SR-LX MD-11 / 6th of March 1991 to the 31st of October 2004
User currently offlineAlessandro From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (11 years 3 months 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 8759 times:

I think the Tu-244 could fly if someone would flunk enough money on it,
Michelin NZG tires and Bugatti-Messier carbon fibre brakes system would be nice.

User currently offlineBA From United States of America, joined May 2000, 11154 posts, RR: 59
Reply 9, posted (11 years 3 months 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 8715 times:

The TU-244 is interesting, but sadly, it is nothing more than a dream.

Aerospatiale and BAE Systems also brought up the idea of a Concorde II, again nothing more than a dream for now.

It's going to be a very long time before we see another supersonic airliner. That's the way I see it...


"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
User currently offlineOD720 From Lebanon, joined Feb 2003, 1926 posts, RR: 32
Reply 10, posted (11 years 3 months 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 8603 times:

I agree with BA, Boeing is working on the 7E7 which some say is a technological breakthrough yet it is a subsonic airliner just like the existing ones. It'll take at least 10 more years for someone to design a supersonic airliner.

Have anyone heard of the vacuum tunnel under the Atlantic. It's also a dream but they say it would take a train to travel NY to London in less than an hour!
Was this relevant with this topic?

User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13297 posts, RR: 77
Reply 11, posted (11 years 3 months 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 8573 times:

Sadly, B2707SST is entirely correct on this subject.

User currently offlineConcordeBoy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (11 years 3 months 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 8469 times:

Sadly, B2707SST is entirely correct on this subject

agreed, straight on the money  Sad

User currently offlineTeahan From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 5310 posts, RR: 61
Reply 13, posted (11 years 3 months 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 8433 times:

I don't disagree but surely everyone could still imagine a scenario, right?  Confused

If anybody cares, there's a petition going to "save" Concorde. Of course its too late, of course it will bring nothing, but it would be nice to see 10,000 signatures:



Goodbye SR-LX MD-11 / 6th of March 1991 to the 31st of October 2004
User currently offlineB2707SST From United States of America, joined Apr 2003, 1373 posts, RR: 59
Reply 14, posted (11 years 3 months 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 8376 times:

As I mentioned in my post, I wish I had come to some other conclusion. I first became interested in aviation about seven years ago, when I bought Christopher Orlebar's The Concorde Story purely on a whim. I still don't know why I did it. I had virtually no interest in planes at the time. Anyway, it includes an amazing picture of Boeing's SST in landing configuration and I decided to learn as much about this forgotten aircraft as possible. I had no idea how far that search would go - six years later, I still have more unanswered questions than I can count.

At first, I was taken with the gee-whiz aspects: surely cool things like swing wings, droop noses, and 1,800-mph speed would have sold the plane? But the more I researched, the harder it became to defend the SST economically, until I finally had to admit defeat. If the plane was truly worth the risk and cost, Boeing would have found the funds privately, just like they've funded every aircraft since the 707. They made virtually no effort to do so. This is possibly the most damning fact of the entire US/SST story.

Practically, the SST is dead and will be for decades. But of course there's nothing wrong with dreaming. I still dream of flying at Mach 2 and looking up at that deep indigo sky on the edge of space, even though it will not be possible again for years, if ever. If no one dreamt these impossible things, there would be no airplanes, no jet engines, no Concorde, no Apollo 11, no 747, no A380 (and that's hard to admit, coming from a Seattleite!).

One of the most touching things I have discovered in my research happened immediately after the 2707 was cancelled in 1971. Thousands of schoolchildren in Washington state, some with parents whose jobs had suddenly disappeared, sent $1 and $5 bills to Boeing, trying to keep the dream alive. Many were accompanied by hand-written notes, crayon drawings of SSTs and rainbows (much to the fury of environmentalists everywhere, I assume), and other encouragements for Boeing. The donations were returned and the mockups and unfinished prototype hulls were scrapped, but that gesture left quite an impression on me. I think we all, especially those A.net members in the UK and NYC, have seen the same spirit demonstrated in the outpouring of support and affection for Concorde over the last few weeks.

Thanks for the link - I just signed the petition, even thought it's now purely symbolic. It will be good to see Concorde at the Museum of Flight alongside N74700. If any two aircraft have defined the limits of human achievement in the first 100 years of aviation, it is these two.


[Edited 2003-10-27 00:46:56]

Keynes is dead and we are living in his long run.
User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13297 posts, RR: 77
Reply 15, posted (11 years 3 months 5 days ago) and read 8289 times:

The keep a Concorde flying petition is a nice gesture, I can only say that the idea of a 'Heritage Flight' was pushed by Eddington, though it now looks that the obstacles to it are formidable, so who am I to say it probably won't achieve it's goal.

I just wish that some at BA Engineering had fought Concorde's corner harder, like it used to be.
With AF being forced to stop, by a mix of commercial and technical issues, the end for BA was inevitable, however I fully believe that a harder line with Airbus could at least have extended support to next April, or even late 2004.

We could have returned OAB to flight, brought back those re-deployed last year, kept the scheduled maintenance running at full throttle for another year or so, thus enabling BA, when announcing the retirement perhaps a year before the event rather than 6 months, to run more scheduled (double daily JFKs and additional BGIs) and a charter operation, the latter enabling many more people to affordably experience Concorde.

In our last months, with people being determined to fly Concorde, we were making over £5 Million per week profit, imagine how we could have helped BA's bottom line by almost doubling that and a real spectacular retirement, with more tours around the world and the UK.
But Eddington was getting discouragement from the hostile head of BA Engineering and his placemen, they saw their chance and went for it, re-deploying staff saved no money for BA, made their budget look good though, these are people who threaten to sack experienced, well qualified staff for having their jacket on their chair.

We put on a good show in the end, but we could have done so much more.

This weekend, BA staff and families were allowed in the hangar, we had OAD and OAE looking immaculate, accessible and with the power on, OAD with the nose/visor down and engine bay doors open, OAE with the nose/visor in flight/parking configuration.
Also an engine on a stand, an intake computer, seats, menus, meal service, a window, a video playing with scenes from the aircrafts history with personal recollections of crew and pax and a selection of merchandise.
We were on hand to explain, show around, ensure health and safety.
The feedback we got was great, the most common comment was 'why are we getting rid of Concorde?'

Sadly, despite trying, BA were unable to get permission for the public to come in, though the BA staff were ticket controlled, in manageable groups, bussed in and out of the secure areas.
LHR won't wear us allowing a similar method for the public though, we could have charged for a ticket and given the profits to BA charities.

User currently offlineLufthansa From Christmas Island, joined May 1999, 3224 posts, RR: 10
Reply 16, posted (11 years 3 months 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 8222 times:

About the development costs

Well assuming that we are going to be aggressive and not conservative in our design philosophy, well, the TU-224 could costs substancially less than ANY western built competitor. The thing is, it would need to have Russian built engines and Avionics etc. IF this was done, then the costs can be kept down low enough to maybe make development costs similar to those spoke of.

I would get the Chinese involved too! Thats a huge market and having a large asian imput would likely translate to sales in this key market. Forget about transatlantic, Transpacific is even longer and definately more in need of supersonic flight. Think of Hong Kong or Tokyo to LAX, at mach 2. Even if it isn't non-stop.... it would still be faster. As for the whole sonic boom problem, well, I think that certain parts of the North of Canada, and definately most of Russia and the Middle east should allow supersonic flight over their land. Who is it going to harm flying over either frozen land or desert? Not to mention its not really an issue after the aircraft has already reached its cruising speed. I have RAAF jets fly supersonically over my house regularly and its not a problem....... Just simply have some kind of rule that the sound barrier can't be broken over built up areas. Come on people we have become Stale. If westerner's don't get their act together and do it, somebody else like China will! They launched a manned rocket the other day remember. We've got to stop giving into the anit-everything Nimbi type protestors and start moving forward.

I think this is exactly what Tupolev needs.... infact if it was to do this and succeed, it could just blow boeing and airbus right out of the water. Remember folks, lots of Asian countries already have russian airforce jets. They may not be so adverse to a high-tech russian passenger liner if it were up to scratch techonogically! Remember, Toyota was once considered "jap crap!" nobody would really consider that opinion fair now!

User currently offlineLehpron From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 7028 posts, RR: 20
Reply 17, posted (11 years 3 months 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 8199 times:


Sorry GDB, I for one do not believe B2707SST is entirely correct on this subject, especially with statements like this:

"The money and talent are better spent on projects like the 7E7 and the A380. I've spent almost seven years researching the SST and I wish I'd found a better conclusion, but the inactivity of Boeing and Airbus on this front shows that they are equally skeptical. "


Dude how dare you shoot hopes down and what is your bias?? A company is NEVER in charge of a market, if so it is a monopoly or dualopoly in this case -- regardless, I will not ever accept it and just turn around and mourn. That's bullshit! Is it quite likely that your 'research' was based on a Concorde-like SST? With similar stats like range, payload, speed, economics of which and it’s purported shape? And what data, the past 30 years? I'm sorry but in the past 30 years nothing has been going on but the same approach to out-do Concorde by using her old tech and performance [that’s the reality folks]; nobody has ever started from scratch. Most of the arguments against SST's have been based on Concorde; that is it! Nobody has ever looked at it out of the box. Why? I want to say business obsession but it is likely ignorance.

I'm not an economics or business major (I'm an aerospace engineering major) but this is what I figure from my research over the past 16 years: If airlines want a plane then a company will built that product provided they can keep selling it. Airlines look towards pax trends to forecast usage and which destination will have more traffic. Pax trends are based on the passenger -- this is where the ignorance begins.

Here is an analogy to follow: say a guy buys a pair of shoes at the local store. This dude will look over all the selections before him, see their costs and benefits, this dude will also note what he saw on TV or what his friends thought; he'll pick on and out the store he goes. What if the store had only three shoes, but lots of colors and lots of prices, whatever he'll pick is his choice and out the store he goes. But wait, what if there are other shoes, they just never got seen? Not his fault, the store was not advertising them. Why? They concluded that since nobody know about them, and then there is no market for them.

BTW, when I refer to dumb ignorant people I am referring to the world air traveler, we on this entire A.net make up a percent of a percent of those who travel. I don't mean to harp on you guys, just sometimes I get the impression we are being invaded by the ignorant. Believe it.

What point could I possibly be driving?! Can someone tell me why there is no market for anything sonic?!  Pissed

The meaning of life is curiosity; we were put on this planet to explore opportunities.
User currently offlineBobrayner From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2003, 2227 posts, RR: 6
Reply 18, posted (11 years 3 months 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 8141 times:

If there was really significant demand for it, you'd expect one of the major manufacturers to have seriously considered building it. One of them might misjudge the market from time to time - but several? When they're all keenly taking hints and requests from airlines?

I think that they know the market better than us.

Dude how dare you shoot hopes down and what is your bias

We would hope to have an SST, yes, but hope is no more a proof in engineering than it is in mathematics or philosophy.

Cunning linguist
User currently offlineCancidas From Poland, joined Jul 2003, 4112 posts, RR: 11
Reply 19, posted (11 years 3 months 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 8133 times:

if tupolev were able to pull this off then we might start seeing them appearing on civilian radar screens. Big grin it would be a great way to get thier company into the 21st century of aircraft manufacturing, and maybe ease the usual sniping between airbus and boeing at farnborough.

"...cannot the kingdom of salvation take me home."
User currently offlineB2707SST From United States of America, joined Apr 2003, 1373 posts, RR: 59
Reply 20, posted (11 years 3 months 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 8058 times:

Lehpron -

Just because I approach a problem like this skeptically doesn't mean I'm shooting hopes down. I'm recognizing reality. If you think there's a massive untapped market for supersonic transports out there, the beauty of our market system is that you can raise the funds and build it yourself if you want to. I mean that sincerely. But I am not aware of any present or pending breakthrough that will fundamentally change the economics of SSTs; for example, as GDB has stated over and over again, engineers will be very hard-pressed to beat the remarkable Olympus 593 at Mach 2 cruise, even without the expensive and costly additions for noise abatement and subsonic efficiency; aerodynamic improvements can eke out substantial but not revolutionary performance increases. Concorde and countless others have proven that airplanes live and die by economics, and on this ground, the SST has a long way to go.

You stated that if "airlines want a plane then a company will built that product provided they can keep selling it." Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, and NASA conducted extensive studies on the High-Speed Civil Transport during the 1990s and found the aircraft to be technologically and economically unworkable. If you think that thousands of the best and brightest engineers and scientists in the world are wrong, you are free to try to convince them otherwise or even make a go yourself. Certainly breakthroughs and discoveries can come from anyone. The Wright Brothers proved that. All I'm saying is that any private company better be d@mn sure that their $30-40 billion is well-spent on a new SST, because if the plane doesn't work, it's curtains. Currently, those assurances are about as far away as can be imagined.

Boeing studies asked hundreds of passengers questions like: "Would you pay 25% more to fly supersonic if the plane could save you 50% of your flight time?" Please explain how the question invokes, generates, or would be fooled by customer ignorance. If you like, I could start citing journal articles and magazines, but I don't want to get too technical. One site I recommend that comprises a good overview of these issues is http://users.forthnet.gr/ath/gs/thesis.htm.

My biases are exactly the opposite of what you probably expect. I will be at BFI all night if that's what it takes to see Concorde arrive. I have spent many hundreds of dollars on Concorde, Boeing 2707, Lockheed L-2000, Tu-144, and NASA HSCT books, articles, models, videos, posters, diagrams, specifications, and just about everything else you can imagine; I've spent years reading and writing on this subject with no return, academic or financial, but my own knowledge and satisfaction. I would not have gone to these lengths just to try to shoot down the SST at every turn. The absurd arguments against the SST in the early 1970s are far crazier than anything I've seen on this site (and nothing on this thread is remotely crazy, let me state that clearly).

Everyone has biases, because everyone has feelings - but careful thinkers are able to suspend those biases, even when they have grown attached to the issue at hand. I would love to see an SST fly in the near future: nothing would make me happier than to see a new sleek shape roll out of Everett. But unless the laws of aerodynamics are suddenly turned on their head, I don't see it happening.

"Can someone tell me why there is no market for anything sonic?!" Could it be because the technology does not yet exist to support such an aircraft? BAe and Aerospatiale tried and failed to produce a commercially successful aircraft. Tupolev tried and failed. Boeing tried and failed. NASA, Boeing, and McDD tried again and failed (HSCT). Boeing tried it yet again (SC) and failed. Airbus refuses to touch that market. Thousands of the smartest minds in aerospace have come to the same conclusion. I don't hold myself in bad company for agreeing with them.


Keynes is dead and we are living in his long run.
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