The first stage of restoration of the first supersonic passenger aircraft Tu-144 has completed. The aircraft is standing hear the building of Kazan Aviation Institute (KAI) on Chetaeva Street in Russia, where it will displayed for educational purpose.
In a ceremony to mark the completion of first stage of restoration, the aircraft was highlighted in the dark by nine variations of white, blue and green colors. According to project spokesperson, exterior work on the aircraft has been completed, but the work on interior section is yet to begin.
The Tupolev Tu-144 is a retired commercial supersonic transport aircraft (SST) and it is one of only two SSTs to enter commercial service, the other being the Anglo-French Concorde.
The first prototype flew on 31 December 1968 near Moscow, two months before the first flight of the Concorde. The Tu-144 first went supersonic on 5 June 1969, and on 26 May 1970 became the first commercial transport to exceed Mach 2. A Tu-144 crashed in 1973 at the Paris Air Show, delaying its further development.
The aircraft was introduced into passenger service on 1 November 1977, almost two years after Concorde, because of budget restrictions. In May 1978, another Tu-144 crashed on a test flight while being delivered, and the passenger fleet was permanently grounded after only 55 scheduled flights.
The aircraft remained in use as a cargo aircraft until 1983, by which point a total of 102 commercial flights had been completed. The Tu-144 was later used by the Soviet space program to train pilots of the Buran spacecraft, and by NASA for supersonic research.