It was the world's first supersonic passenger airliner. 55 years since the first flight of the Soviet supersonic passenger aircraft Tu-144

Exactly 55 years ago, on December 31, 1968, the Tu-144, the world's first supersonic passenger aircraft, took off.. A competing design, the French-British Concorde, took off only a few months later, on March 2, 1969.

The Tu-144 was ready to fly by the end of 1968, but bad weather prevented it from taking off.. A suitable weather window appeared only on the very last day of the year, and Tupolev Design Bureau test pilot Eduard Elyan took the most advanced passenger airliner into the air at that time. The test flight, however, did not last long — 37 minutes. Interestingly, for greater safety of the crew, ejection seats were installed in the cockpit — for the first time in an experimental passenger aircraft.

During its operation, the Tu-144 managed to transport 3,284 passengers. A total of 16 copies of the aircraft were produced.

A few weeks ago, an image of the future Russian supersonic passenger aircraft, the successor to the Tu-144, was presented. True, the prototype of this airliner is expected no earlier than in 15-20 years.