Accident Cause

Many hypotheses have been evaluated about the crash of the Tu-144 registered as CCCP-77102 at Paris Air Show in 1973. Here I'm going to report the sequence of all events that finished with the fatal accident, including each hypothesis.


In the last day of the XXX Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport, “Concorde” and Tu-144 are present and ready for a demonstration flight. Both delegations are decided to impress to the 350,000 people present. First turn was for the “Concorde” that made a really impressive flight. The Soviet delegation began his flight with some maneuvers followed by a low pass over the runway in front of the public. When the aircraft reached the end of the runway full power was applied to the engines and realized a vertical climb until 1,200 m. At this point the aircraft lost power and entered in deep dive. Some people believe that this can have been caused by a low quantity of fuel in the tanks that reduced the fuel pressure on engines.

With the aircraft on a deep dive, the efforts of the crew to raise the Tu-144 were enormous, the transcription from the voice tape recorder showed that a camera of a French TV channel, used by V.N. Benderov for to film the flight, fell into the controls and delayed a precious seconds the manoeuvre. The pull out became harder and when the plane was beginning to rise the left wing broke apart and the aircraft crashed in Goussainville.

Witnesses at Le Bourget said that one of the forward canards could separate and punctured a fuel tank or introduced into an engine, this could be the cause of the explosion that destroys the wing. Later reports showed that the hard manoeuvre exceeded the structural resistance and in some parts it was reached 4.5 - 5 G levels. This was enough to destroy the plane in the air.

There is another version, which says that was a French “Mirage” trying to photograph the flight of the Tu-144, who forced the crew to make the vertical climb that produced the accident.