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Thursday, 5 July, 2001, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
Concordski internet auction
Russia's Tupolev 144 crashed  at the Le Bourget air show in 1973
Bids welcomed on the internet
Russia's supersonic airliner known as Concordski may be sold - over the internet.

Designed in the USSR in the 1960s, the Tupolev Tu-144 made its maiden flight at the end of 1968, two months ahead of the Anglo-French Concorde.

The plane was nicknamed Concordski in the West because of its striking resemblance to Concorde. But Russian TV6 television said the name was an amalgamation of Concorde and Sikorsky, the Russian helicopter designer.

Concordski  resembles the Anglo-French Concorde
The characteristic drop-nose and delta shape
A total of 16 aircraft were made, the TV said.

The project was shelved after a Tu-144 crashed at the Le Bourget air show in 1973, killing six Soviet pilots and seven French citizens.

A modified version of the plane, the Tu-144D, was briefly used between Moscow and Almaty in Central Asia, but a second crash in 1977 saw the plane quietly mothballed.


One of the planes was converted into an airborne laboratory in the 1990s. Known as the Tu-144LL, it began test flights in Russia in 1996 as part of a joint project with a US consortium - including NASA, Boeing and McDonnell Douglas - to create a second generation supersonic airliner, the Tu-244.

The plane briefly made regular flights between Moscow and Almaty before being grounded
Tu-144LL tested in 1990s as joint Russian-US airborne laboratory

The new plane was intended to have "minimal environmental impact" Russia's news agency Itar-Tass said at the time.

It was designed to have a range of 9,300 km, cruise at over twice the speed of sound and carry 300-400 passengers. The project was due to be completed by 2010.


After the Paris Concorde crash in 2000, a spokesman for Tupolev told Reuters news agency the company would continue to work on the Tu-244 and said "this crash will not affect the research and development plans of this new supersonic aircraft".

The designer in charge of Tupolev's supersonic passenger aircraft programme, Aleksandr Pukhov, blamed financial factors for slowing the project down, telling Itar-Tass it could "only be implemented within the framework of international cooperation, because it needs a lot of money".

Aleksey Tupolev, who led the design team of the Tu-144, died in May this year.

Moscow TV6 said last month that the Tu-144LL had been sold over the internet.

But the head of the company trying to sell the aircraft, Randall Stephens, told BBC News Online that this was incorrect and the plane had not yet been sold.

He said a portion of any profits made by selling the aircraft will go to a charitable organisation to fund Russian charities for disadvantaged children and disabled veterans.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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See also:

23 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
Supersonic flight 'doomed'
15 Aug 00 | UK
Supersonic travel stalls
13 May 01 | Europe
'Concordski' designer dies
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