We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Was the Concordski?

By S. Mithra
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The Concordski was a Western European nickname given to the Soviet Russian supersonic airplane called the Tupolev 144, similarly modeled to the Anglo-French Concorde. At a time when America, Russian, Britain, and France were participating in a technology race, the Concordski represented possible innovations of the Soviets over other nations. However, the plane crashed under suspicious circumstances during an air show in 1973, thus dashing the hopes of Tupolev's success in jet planes.

Developing and engineering a safe, feasible, large capacity airplane that could transport people and goods at speeds exceeding the speed of sound was a prestigious and important enterprise. All the developed nations of the world in the 60s researched aerodynamics and mechanics toward the end of building, testing, and manufacturing a large, supersonic airplane. Not until the Paris Air Show in 1973 did the opposing developers have a chance to show off their models: the Anglo-French the Concorde and the Russians the Tu144, the Concordski.

Such pressing competition bred industrial espionage among the factions and created private spy programs. It was rumored that the Russians had stolen plans for the Concorde. The Concordski had some individual characteristics, such as carrying its engine on the fuselage instead of on the wings. It also added smaller wings, or canards, to stabilize the vehicle. It was curiosity over these canards that eventually led to a disaster on 3 June, 1973 in Paris. Both jets had already been transporting goods, but this was an opportunity to end the rivalry by naming a winner in capacity, performance, and grace.

Unfortunately, the French sent up a small Mirage fighter with the intent to spy on the functionality of the canards while in the air, unbeknownst to the Concordski pilot. On a cloudy day, the Mirage lost track of the Tu144 as it ascended in a steep climb, demonstrating its dynamic ability. Fatefully, the airplanes found themselves on opposite paths with collision imminent. The Tu144 dove sharply, which stalled the engines. While it avoided the initial collision, it could barely restart the engines in time to pull up from crashing, and ending up putting such force of the body of the plane that it broke apart in midair. This accident killed six people on the plane and eight more with its debris.

This event alone did not force Tupolev to abandon manufacturing. In 1977, they were confident enough to begin to fly passengers. Yet, another crash that year, near Alma-Ata airport, destroyed their reputation such that they ceased constructing the Concordski in 1985. Even though the Concordski beat the Concorde in first breaking the sound barrier as a commercial aircraft, in 1969, one could say it lost the longer race to become a feasible and profitable jet airliner.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon145444 — On Jan 23, 2011

Is there any way to find out more about the accident that happened near Alma-Ata in 1977 involving a Tupolev?

Also, I'm not an expert at this, but wasn't that a Tupolev-104(A) and not a 144 back then?

By anon41953 — On Aug 18, 2009

The idea that the engines stalled in a dive sounds, perhaps, plausible but as someone who watched the disaster in real time, I can attest that the Tu-144 was *climbing* at the time the body started to break apart and had not come out of a steep dive.

I would like to know what actually happened but, until the truth is finally revealed, we are stuck with the conclusion that it had a design fault/metal fatigue/whatever, and couldn't stand the dynamic forces involved in supersonic flight for long. Subsequent crashes in the USSR - which definitely did not involve French Mirages - were what seemed to put the Russians off. The plane was relegated to cargo duties for the rest of its curtailed career.

(No, I know it wasn't supersonic at Paris - but it had been, a number of times previously.)

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.