Birdwatching
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Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Tue Oct 28, 2003 2:08 am

I was wondering: Is there ANYONE here who has ever actually flown on the Tu-144? How was the service aboard? Anything special, as Concorde was different from regular subsonic service? How were the meals? How much was the cost of the ticket compared to a regular subsonic ticket on the same route? Were there any SOVIET CELEBRITIES on your flight?

Just Curious!
All the things you probably hate about travelling are warm reminders that I'm home
 
GDB
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Tue Oct 28, 2003 5:36 am

You are assuming that it actually entered full airline service, which it did not.
The flights it did do were for a short time, often mostly carrying mail.
Forget the Concorde/TU-144 comparisons, Concorde was in full airline service for 27 years, the TU-144 probably carried mostly people involved with the programme as 'pax'.
 
aa757first
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Tue Oct 28, 2003 5:50 am

I flew on the Tu-144 during one of its first flight out of Moscow to Alma-Ata. The noise was unbearable. It was so loud we could not have a normal conversation but had to pass written notes about to communicate. The seats were cramped and the in flight service was little more then vodka and some breakfast cakes. --Vitaly Mikhail


From
 
flyingbronco05
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Tue Oct 28, 2003 5:53 am

Aa757first

What? I don't follow what you are saying.

FB05
Never Trust Your Fuel Gauge
 
B2707SST
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Tue Oct 28, 2003 6:55 am

This is an excerpt from Soviet SST: The Technopolitics of the TU-144, which is the best and most comprehensive account yet written about the -144, of the first TU-144 flight carrying Westerners in November 1977:

Westerners on board the 144 had a different story [from the official Soviet line]. This was the first occasion that non-Soviets had actually flown the TU-144, and their dispatches revealed how uncomfortable it was. The Soviets had taken pains to make the first “commercial” flight of their flagship as auspicious as possible. Before takeoff, official speeches linked this first Soviet supersonic service to the sixtieth anniversary of the Revolution, as “a great achievement, a huge contribution to the celebrations.” But ground services were strictly earthbound. Bugavev, who had assigned the speech making to his deputy, Gulakov, was infuriated by the breakdown of a new motorized embarkation ramp, which delayed departure half an hour. Similar problems occurred on arrival in Alma-Ala, when the plane was towed back-and-forth for twenty-five minutes in an attempt to align it with an exit ramp.

Eighty privileged passengers, selected by the Soviet Foreign Ministry, were served caviar and cognac for breakfast from serving carts which could barely negotiate the narrow aisle. Reports of vibration problems seemed unfounded. The cabin had shortcomings: several ceiling panels were ajar, service trays stuck, and window shades dropped without being pulled. The five-abreast seating was criticized as cramped. Not all the toilets worked. These shortcomings were normal in a new airliner. A more serious problem remained.

On-board speakers played the theme from Love Story, “Gloomy Sunday,” and “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head,” but few aboard could hear it. Their dominant impression was not speed but noise. Fed by the onrushing air, the huge air-conditioners and the huge engines created “an ear-shattering roar that could almost have been heard in Queens,” according to the New York Times. Shouting, Tupolev explained that most on-board noise originated from the huge air-conditioners designed to keep the high skin temperatures at bay, and that Soviet technicians were at work to cut down the decibels. Passengers complained that the loud onrushing sound of wind made conversation impossible and communicated with each other by passing notes. The cacophony was almost unbearable in the rear of the cabin. Tupolev admitted that the TU-144 was half again as noise as the conventional TU-154.

The passengers’ other prime impression was the tremendous acceleration of which the 144 was capable as it took off. Air et Cosmos calculated that it had a power-to-weight ratio almost 20 percent higher than the Concorde. Since the 144 was carrying only eighty passengers—57 percent of capacity—its rate of ascent was truly dramatic. Although the Soviets had devoted top priority to this project for fifteen years, they had been unable to achieve levels of comfort suitable for a civilian airliner. The noise, lack of range, and naked power of the TU-144 reflected the personality of a military aircraft, as did its practice of landing with three popout parachutes instead of thrust reversers. Issuing sound-deadening helmets to passengers, as is done on board helicopters, would have been a cheap, pragmatic solution to the noise problem, but Tupolev was not about to accept defeat.

The Soviet media seem to have received mixed signals on coverage of this inaugural flight, patently designed for foreign consumption. Soviet press coverage of the first passenger flight was less than that of the first freight flight at the end of 1975. This ambivalence seems well founded. Following the media event of the first flight, Aeroflot canceled the next three, although tickets were sold and passengers were waiting. No explanation was given for these cancellations. For the West, this Soviet propaganda splash was anticlimactic: the Concorde had been serving international routes to the Middle East and North and South America for twenty-two months.

--B2707SST
Keynes is dead and we are living in his long run.
 
airman99o
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Tue Oct 28, 2003 7:23 am

WOW sounds like flying some of the low cost carriers 737-200's or MD-83's here in Canada.  Smile

airman99o
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LastBaron
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Tue Oct 28, 2003 7:30 am

GDB, sorry to contradict you, but you are misinformed.

The TU-144 entered service for a full 8 years, albeit not on the glamourous routes it was intended for and not regularly. The aircraft were plagued by unreliability and also a lack of spare parts, and thus were relegated to routes such as the one mentioned above, Moscow-Alma Aty and other intra-USSR assignments.

A complete history, including the Paris Air Show disaster (which I watched live on television in Europe back when it occurred), as well as the fate of the remaining 144s (mostly scrapped or abandoned, with one saved as an exhibit somewhere in Russia), etc., just aired yesterday here in the U.S. on the cable television network Discovery Wings Channel.

 
levg79
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Tue Oct 28, 2003 7:49 am

Were there any SOVIET CELEBRITIES on your flight?

Most definitely not!!!!

The Soviet Union was a socialist type of government living by Marx's principles, that all men should be equal. Because of that rule, Soviet celebrities were making roughly the same amount of money as factory workers or bus drivers. So the TU-144 wasn't intended for the same purposes as the Concorde. It was simply another chapter in the book entitled An Arms Race. Only unlike all the previous marvels that were designed by the Soviet Union (i.e. sputnik, hydrogen bomb, etc.), the TU-144 was the airplane made by Concorde's stolen design plans.
A mile of runway takes you to the world. A mile of highway takes you a mile.
 
aa757first
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Tue Oct 28, 2003 7:54 am

 
teahan
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Tue Oct 28, 2003 9:57 am

@B2707SST: Is it worth trying to get hold of a copy of that book you mention? Sounds pretty interesting.

Jeremiah
Goodbye SR-LX MD-11 / 6th of March 1991 to the 31st of October 2004
 
B2707SST
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Tue Oct 28, 2003 11:04 am

Teahan-

The author's name is Howard Moon, ISBN is 0-517-56601-X, 238 pages with chronology and extensive endnotes if you're interested. It was written in 1989 and has been out of print for years, so a large central library or used book store would be your best bet. Many ex-library copies should be available if you want to buy it.

The book is a little dated, coming as it did from the last years of the Cold War; exact TU-144 specifications, especially for the TU-144D, were still state secrets, and of course it does not include the Tupolev/NASA/Boeing TU-144LL tests in the late '90s. It's an excellent look behind the scenes into the Soviet aviation industry during the 1960s and 70s and really gives a impression of how dysfunctional the USSR was. The impressions I came away with were the extraordinary degree of political meddling in the project and the unbridgeable gap between Soviet and Western aerospace technology. When Tupolev has to beg British Aerospace to "borrow" their intake computers, the Russians must be in trouble. If you're looking for pages of hard data and technical analysis, it may disappoint, but it's a great political history if you're seriously interested in Russian air transport.

By the way, Howard Moon also appeared in the Nova Supersonic Spies video for a few brief comments. That program is an interesting and unbiased look at the SST race from a more US vs. Europe vs. USSR perspective, with special emphasis on the 1973 Paris Air Show TU-144 crash. It is somewhat dumbed-down for wider audiences, though.

--B2707SST
Keynes is dead and we are living in his long run.
 
GDB
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Tue Oct 28, 2003 9:39 pm

If it had been a reliable, safe, functional airliner, why was it not seen doing for example Moscow-Shannon-Havana/New York?
That the propaganda obsessed USSR did not speaks volumes about the -144, just because it did look a bit like a Concorde means nothing, though informed observers could see the problems with the design externally.
Not using the fuel as a heat sink is incredible for a start, you wonder if it was used for trim transfer, it must have been I suppose but with any reliability?
(Concordes fuel transfer was aided by 3 computers, cutting edge at the time).
 
vc10
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Tue Oct 28, 2003 10:00 pm

GDB,
I hate to dis-agree with you but fuel on Concorde was NOT used as a heat sink. In fact that was one reason why the "A" tank fuel was used early on in the flight, as the "A" tanks had a large surface area for the fuel they contained, so fuel was used to prevent it warming up too much. Now if you are referring to the fact that fuel on it's way to the engines was used to cool Hydraulics, Air Conditioning and, Electrical Generator then I would agree that fuel was used for cooling, but this is not exactly rocket science.
As far as fuel transfer was concerned if I remember correctly there was no computers involved. The 3 computers were used to compute the aircraft's C of G and although helpful during fuel transfer they were not essential. In fact after fuel transfer the position of the elevons was used to ensure that the aircraft C of G was correct for that flight [ as long as you did not go outside the C of G limits ]
Anyway as they say it is all history now

Be happy little vc10
 
sushka
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Tue Oct 28, 2003 10:18 pm

I climbed on one. Does that count?  Smile/happy/getting dizzy


Pershoyu Spravoyu Litaki!
 
RIX
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Thu Oct 30, 2003 6:26 am

You are assuming that it actually entered full airline service, which it did not.
The flights it did do were for a short time, often mostly carrying mail.


The TU-144 entered service for a full 8 years... Moscow-Alma Aty and other intra-USSR assignments.

Guys... here it is once again.

102 flights in regular service, 55 of them with passengers. More than 3000 people carried - a tiny fraction of what Concorde did but still, way enough for being in "full airline service".

"Full 8 years" - ??? Just 7 months of passenger flights! Moscow - Alma-Ata was the only route, everything else (Khabarovsk, Tashkent, (?)...) - for test flights only.

Soviet press coverage of the first passenger flight was less than that of the first freight flight at the end of 1975. - looks to be absolutely wrong. I mean, I might miss the cargo service coverage in December 25th, 1975 (BTW, exactly that day I was on my second flight ever, on Il18), but on November 1st, 1977, Tu144 was in every newspaper, on TV - the coverage was definitely more than, say, of a space flight. I can't imagine what could be covered more - except for a death of a CPSU Secretary General...
 
Birdwatching
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Thu Oct 30, 2003 9:56 am

I have one question:

Why did the Soviets decide to use a supersonic transport to deliver Mail from Moscow to Alma Aty?

Wouldn't a normal subsonic transport take only a couple of hours longer?

What kind of mail justifies a supersonic transport?
All the things you probably hate about travelling are warm reminders that I'm home
 
GDB
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Thu Oct 30, 2003 11:02 am

An addition to proving flights maybe? Which seemed very extended, which they would have needed to be with such a flawed design.
One day TU-144 proponents will answer the question of why was it not used outside the USSR, worthwhile for propaganda if nothing else, if the aircraft was ever a workable airliner.
 
n844aa
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Thu Oct 30, 2003 11:06 am

Birdwatching, I recall reading once that that route was chosen for its "reverse prestige" factor. It was picked precisely because it was an unglamorous route, not like one the decadent Westerners might have chosen -- a real "worker's route" so to speak (although I have no doubt that there were operational factors considered as well.)
New airplanes, new employees, low fares, all touchy-feely ... all of them are losers. -Gordon Bethune
 
B2707SST
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Thu Oct 30, 2003 12:49 pm

Moon comments that mail was carried because those Moscow-Alma Ata runs were little more than proving flights trumped up as airline service. As usual, the Soviets stated that the TU-144 would be in "service," before Concorde, by the end of 1975 in one of their Five-Year Plans. Like the first flight, it was pushed through despite the aircraft's marginal readiness.

Mail also doesn't care about engine surges due to poorly designed intakes, excessive cabin noise, emergency diversions, etc., whereas pax could have leaked the -144's failures to the West. However, as time went on, the veil of secrecy began to fall and even the Soviet state organs (Pravda, Izvestia, etc.) began to openly question the wisdom of the TU-144, although they spun their editorials to mean Russia had been tricked into joining the fruitless SST race by the West. By the late 70s, the political will had vanished and Aeroflot grounded the plane. One or two aircraft made military test flights for a few more years, and set some payload-altitude records that still stand, before the entire fleet was idled at Zhukovsky.

That the Soviets did not use the TU-144 for service to the Moscow Olympics in 1980, which would have been an immense propaganda coup, speaks volumes about the TU-144's success as a true airliner instead of a test plane. Domestic-only servce still would have been a huge event - imagine the decadent Westerners arriving in their subsonic jets, while the everyday Soviet proletarian gets flown in supersonic. Soviet media could have had a field day, but it did not happen.

--B2707SST

[Edited 2003-10-30 04:52:20]
Keynes is dead and we are living in his long run.
 
GDB
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Thu Oct 30, 2003 5:47 pm

Good point about the 1980 Olympics, if I remember correctly, Aeroflot used the IL-86 in brochures about travel to the games.
 
ben
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Thu Oct 30, 2003 7:05 pm

I have one question:
Why did the Soviets decide to use a supersonic transport to deliver Mail from Moscow to Alma Aty?
Wouldn't a normal subsonic transport take only a couple of hours longer?
What kind of mail justifies a supersonic transport?


The cargo itself isn't important. For the purposes of those flights, it could have been carrying bags of sand.

It was the standard practice. All Soviet airliners would go through a period of test flights in a "normal operating" regime. During these flights, passengers are never carried, it was more a 'technical' proving period for the aircraft, crews and support services.

These sometimes lasted up to a few years, which I think was the case for the Tu-154.
 
RIX
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Fri Oct 31, 2003 5:10 am

why was it not used outside the USSR... if the aircraft was ever a workable airliner - depends on what you call "workable". It carried safely 3000+ passengers. Still full of problems and far from a completed reliable design.

even the Soviet state organs (Pravda, Izvestia, etc.) began to openly question the wisdom of the TU-144 - a very interesting note. I don't remember anything like this (which means just what it says, "I don't remember", no way am I trying to say, "there were no such articles" - BTW, would be great to get any references!) in newspapers but such "opposing" opinions still could appear only "from above" - somebody decided to prepare the general public to what already was going to happen.
 
sovietjet
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Fri Oct 31, 2003 5:16 am

Regardless of how much of a failure it was...I still think it is a beautiful aircraft. Do you guys think that if Aeroflot and Tupolev actually tried, they could've brought it up to standard and fixed all the bugs in a period of say...5 years?
 
B2707SST
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Fri Oct 31, 2003 5:44 am

RIX -

The Izvestia/Pravda reports are quoted or paraphrased in Moon's book, Soviet SST. It is extensively endnoted, so the specific articles would be cited. I don't have access to the text now as I'm away from home, but I clearly remember him mentioning that the Soviets felt tricked by the West into wasting resources on their SST program, which is amusing given their frantic rush to beat Concorde into the air and into scheduled service. I would agree that such editorials were part of a gradual letdown for the public before the TU-144 was grounded for good; I can't recall if Moon makes this point or not.

--B2707SST
Keynes is dead and we are living in his long run.
 
RIX
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Fri Oct 31, 2003 6:18 am

B2707SST - thank you!

Sovietjet, they could've brought it up to standard and fixed all the bugs - I think, Tu144D was a right step in this direction (no reheat on supercruise, hence much better range, to begin with). Technically they would definitely be able do it. But apparently it became more and more clear the whole idea was not viable - still too much expenses ahead, no persistent market (even as tiny as Concorde had), and even traditional Soviet "no limits for the sake of prestige" eventually did not work...
 
teahan
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RE: Tu-144, Anyone Ever Flown On It?

Fri Oct 31, 2003 6:23 am

@B2707SST: Thanks for that reply regarding the book. Will definitely try to pick up a copy.
Goodbye SR-LX MD-11 / 6th of March 1991 to the 31st of October 2004

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