The Tupolev Tu-144 is a Soviet supersonic passenger airliner designed by Tupolev in operation from 1968 to 1999. The Tu-144 was the world's first commercial supersonic transport aircraft with its prototype's maiden flight from Zhukovsky Airport on 31 December 1968, three months before the British-French Concorde.
The Tu-144 was a product of the Tupolev Design Bureau, an OKB headed by aeronautics pioneer Alexei Tupolev, and 16 aircraft were manufactured by the Voronezh Aircraft Production Association in Voronezh. The Tu-144 conducted 102 commercial flights, of which only 55 carried passengers, at an average service altitude of 16,000 metres (52,000 ft) and cruised at a speed of around 2,200 kilometres per hour (1,400 mph) (Mach 2). The Tu-144 first went supersonic on 5 June 1969, four months before Concorde, and on 26 May 1970 became the world's first commercial transport to exceed Mach 2.
The Tu-144 suffered from reliability and developmental issues, and with the 1973 Paris Air Show crash, restricted the viability for regular use. The Tu-144 was introduced into passenger service with Aeroflot between Moscow and Almaty on 26 December 1975, but withdrawn less than three years later after a second Tu-144 crashed and retired on 1 June 1978. The Tu-144 remained in commercial service as a cargo aircraft until cancellation of the Tu-144 program in 1983. The Tu-144 was later used by the Soviet space program to train pilots of the Buran spacecraft, and by NASA for supersonic research until 1999. The Tu-144 made its final flight on 26 June 1999 and surviving aircraft were put on display across the world or into storage.