Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed the idea of a domestically-built supersonic passenger aircraft based on the “brilliant” Tu-160 strategic bomber recently developed for the military.
“We now need to go back to supersonic passenger travel. We should think about it,” Putin told the public as he visited the city of Kazan on Tuesday.
The president noted that “a new machine” for the Russian military, the long-range heavy strategic bomber Tu-160 and its technology, could be developed into a civilian version.
“Everything is running like clockwork,” said the Russian president about the Tu-160. “So why not also create a supersonic passenger plane?”
The Soviet Union developed a supersonic passenger plane – the Tupolev Tu-144. The aircraft made its maiden flight in 1968, and was used for passenger service for less than a year in 1977-1978 before it was ruled economically unfeasible and potentially unsafe. The same happened to the only other similar aircraft, the British-French Concorde, which made its last flight in 2003.
It’s not the first time Putin has floated the idea of bringing back a civilian supersonic plane. After witnessing a test flight of Russia’s new Tu-160 strategic bomber last year, the president said that the Tu-144 was too costly for people for its time, but now the economic situation in the country is different and some companies would be able to operate this type of aircraft.
Earlier this year, the Russian Ministry of Industry said that the United Aviation Corporation (UAC) will be in charge of developing the supersonic passenger jet. The company will build a flight simulator demonstrating the new jet’s capabilities by 2022 and then start working on the plane’s design.
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