MOSCOW -- The Soviet Union test flew its supersonic TU-144 airliner today, beating the U.S., France and Britain into a new era of aviation.
The flight tested all systems, including engines and control units.
Unofficial sources said the TU-144 flew from an airport near Moscow. The first flights were kept below the sound barrier, the Soviet reported earlier, until all handling characteristics and on-board systems are checked out.
The TU-144 was rolled out more than a year ago and its first flight had fallen behind schedule, although not to the same extent as the Anglo-French Concorde.
The American entry in the supersonic race, the Boeing-B-2707, had originally been scheduled to fly in mid-1974 but the design was recently scrapped because of the uneconomic weight of the proposed swing-wing. A smaller, fixed-wing Boeing now is under consideration but is not expected to be airborne until at least 1976.