In total 17 Tu-144 were built between 1965 and 1984. The first Tu-144 was the prototype model, she was built in MMZ “Opyt” plant near Moscow and was assembled in the Tupolev facilities in Zhukovsky.
After prototype, 1st pre-production aircraft was built with important changes in the wings, a new configuration of motor-gondolas and an improved version of engines; the NK-144A model. After these changes, aircraft production began in the Voronezh Aircraft Factory (VASO) until a total of 15 planes.
This new model, the Tu-144S, was presented in the Paris Air Show in 1973 where she suffered an accident while she was performing a demonstration flight. A hard manoeuvre after a deep dive made the plane broke out and crashed, killing all six on board and eight on the ground.
Tu-144 equipped with NK-144A engines could reach Mach 2.2 but she was not able to keep it without the afterburner, this produces a high consumption of fuel that reduces her operational range. The new model “004D” equipped with RD-36-51A engines, more powerful and efficient, was developed to solve this problem but a new accident happened in 1978 marked the end of the passengers' service. The production continued until 1984 but the regular service was never restored.
Aeroflot operated all the Tu-144 but only 3 did regular flights between Moscow and Alma-Ata, completing a whole of 102 flights between 1975 and 1978. In the 80's two aircraft were used in several scientific experiments and in 1993 one of the last Tu-144D built was taken out of storage and used as testbed on a join program between Tupolev, NASA and several Americans companies. She made a total of 27 flights between 1996 and 1999. In that year the program was cancelled and since then all Tu-144 are out of flight status.
The prototype and four pre-production planes were scrapped, as well as one of the “004D” model. Two planes were lost in both accidents, (Paris 1973 and Yegoryevsk 1978) and five are preserved in different museums in Russia and Germany. In the Voronezh Aircraft Factory (VASO), where they were built, two units were stored (one incomplete) that probably were later scrapped and the other two remaining ones are in the Tupolev's facilities at Zhukovsky.
Click on the menu to the left for details on the fleet of Tu-144 and their current location.