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How fast do planes fly? Exploring airplane speeds 

Sharp telephoto close-up of jet plane aircraft with contrails cruising from Tokyo to Boston, altitude AGL 37,000 feet, ground speed 548 knots.

It goes without saying that planes are seriously fast, but they can fly at a whole range of different speeds depending on the type of aircraft , altitude, weather conditions, and other factors. Aviation speed is typically measured in miles per hour (mph) – or a Mach number, which is a measurement of speed relative to the speed of sound. 

Let’s explore how fast planes fly by focusing on commercial, military, and private jet speeds. 

Different types of aircraft speed measurement

There are two main categories: ground speed and airspeed . Ground speed refers to the aircraft’s speed relative to the ground below. Airspeed is the more commonly used measurement in aviation and is usually measured in knots (kt), with one knot equivalent to 1.15 mph. This measurement considers the aircraft’s speed relative to the surrounding air, which is essential for safe and efficient flight.  

The two most common types of airspeed are indicated airspeed (IAS) and true airspeed (TAS). Indicated airspeed is the speed shown on the aircraft’s instrument panel and is based on the pressure differential between the pitot tube and static port on the airplane. However, due to a variety of factors such as instrument errors and atmospheric conditions, indicated airspeed may not always be an accurate representation of the aircraft’s true airspeed. 

Therefore, true airspeed is the actual speed of the aircraft relative to the surrounding air, independent of instrument errors or other factors. It is calculated by adjusting the indicated airspeed for temperature and altitude and is usually measured in kt or mph. 

Plane speeds

Mach and mph are two different units of measurement for speed. Mph is a unit of measurement commonly used for ground vehicles and aircraft, and it measures the distance an object travels within an hour. Mach number is a unit of measurement that compares the speed of an object to the speed of sound. 

The speed of sound, which is referred to as Mach 1, is approximately 767 mph (at sea level and at a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit). Therefore, Mach 0.85, which is the typical cruising speed of commercial airliners, means that the aircraft is traveling at 85% of the speed of sound, or approximately 646 mph at sea level. 

In comparison, the fastest human running speed ever recorded is approximately 28 mph – and needless to say, that’s significantly slower than the cruising speed of a commercial airliner. Even the slowest commercial airliner takeoff and landing speeds are much faster than the fastest recorded human running speed. 

Specifically, the cruising speed of commercial airliners is typically around 550-600 mph, or Mach 0.85. Takeoff and landing speeds are much slower, typically between 130-180 mph, depending on the aircraft and weather conditions. The landing speed of a commercial airliner can be around 160-180 mph, while the takeoff speed can be around 130-160 mph. 

The fastest passenger planes

The Airbus A350-1000 first entered service in 2018 and has a top speed of Mach 0.89, which means it can travel at approximately 683 mph at sea level. This makes it the fastest commercial plane currently in operation. The A350-1000 is also known for its fuel efficiency and advanced technology, making it a popular choice among airlines. 

Modern passenger aircraft Airbus A350-1000 XWB taking off

Another leading commercial airliner is the Boeing 747-8, which has been in service since 2011. It has a top speed of Mach 0.86, so it can travel at approximately 660 mph at sea level. The 747-8 is the latest variant of the Boeing 747, which has been a popular aircraft for over 50 years. The 747-8 is known for its large size and range, making it ideal for long-haul flights. 

The fastest civilian aircraft ever built is the retired Concorde supersonic jet. Supersonic refers to speeds that surpass Mach 1 – the speed of sound. The Concorde was a joint venture between British Aerospace and the French company Aerospatiale. It entered service in 1976 and was retired in 2003. The Concorde could fly at speeds of up to Mach 2.04, or just over 1,565 mph. As such, it could travel from London to New York in just over three hours, compared to the average seven-hour flight time for other commercial airliners. 

Despite its impressive speed, the Concorde was ultimately retired due to factors including high operating costs, environmental concerns and safety issues. 

British Airways Concorde G-BOAB coming into land with landing gear fully extended

The fastest military aircraft 

The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird is a reconnaissance aircraft that was developed by Lockheed Martin for the United States Air Force. It first entered service in 1966 and was retired in 1998. The Blackbird is known for its impressive speed, altitude, and ability to evade detection. It has a top speed of Mach 3.3, which means it can fly at over 2,512 mph, and a maximum altitude of 85,000 feet.  

The Blackbird was designed to conduct reconnaissance missions over hostile territory, and its high-speed and altitude capabilities allowed it to avoid enemy radar and surface-to-air missiles. Despite its performance, the Blackbird was retired due to high operating costs and the development of new reconnaissance technologies.

SR-71 "Blackbird" Cold War Spy plane on static display at Lackland

The Russian MiG-25 , also known as the Foxbat, is a supersonic interceptor and reconnaissance aircraft that first entered service in 1970. It has a top speed of Mach 2.83, or over 2,154 mph, and a maximum altitude of more than 80,000 feet.

The MiG-25 was designed to intercept and destroy enemy aircraft at high speeds and altitudes. It was also capable of conducting reconnaissance missions over hostile territory. Used extensively by the Soviet Union and several other countries, only two units remain in service with the Syrian Air Force . 

In addition to the SR-71 Blackbird and the MiG-25, there are many other military aircraft that are capable of flying at supersonic speeds. These include the F-15 Eagle , the F-16 Fighting Falcon , the Su-27 Flanker , the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Tu-160 Blackjack, the Antonov An-22, and the Rockwell B-1 Lancer. These aircraft are designed for a variety of missions, including air-to-air combat, ground attack, and reconnaissance.  

Though the supersonic flight is an impressive technological feat, it is important to note that it comes burdened with several challenges, from high fuel consumption and environmental concerns such as sonic booms. 

The fastest private jets 

The Gulfstream G700 has a maximum cruising speed of Mach 0.925, or approximately 710 mph. It can fly nonstop for more than 7,000 nautical miles (12,964 km), making it a popular choice for long-range business travel. 

2022 New Gulfstream G700 evening landing at Prague Airport

Another very fast private jet is the Cessna Citation X + , with a maximum cruising speed of Mach 0.935 or roughly 717 mph. It can fly up to 3,460 nautical miles (6,408 km) and is used for short to medium-range business travel. 

The fastest private jet currently available is the Bombardier Global 8000 which has a maximum cruising speed of Mach 0.94 . This long-range jet can fly up to 7,900 nautical miles (14,631 km) non-stop, making it one of the most capable business jets on the market. 

However, it is worth noting that the top speed of private jets can vary depending on various factors, such as altitude, temperature, weight, and even humidity. While private jets are typically designed to reach high speeds, the actual speed during a flight may be lower than the maximum speed possible, due to various factors such as air traffic control restrictions, turbulence, and weather conditions.

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How fast does an airplane really go?

Ethan Klapper

It's a simple question but one without a simple answer: How fast does an airplane fly?

Believe it or not, pilots rely on multiple speeds throughout a flight. Generally, there are four different speeds that measure different things and are affected by different atmospheric conditions.

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Before we get ahead of ourselves, let's get two obvious facts out of the way. First, an aircraft travels at different speeds depending on the phase of flight. Second, different aircraft types are capable of traveling at different speeds.

How fast is an airplane in the air?

Airspeed is measured in knots. One knot equals 1 nautical mile per hour. One nautical mile is 1.15078 statute miles (what we commonly know as a mile). So, 1 knot is equal to 1.15078 miles per hour.

The simplest type of airspeed is indicated airspeed, which is directly derived from an aircraft's pitot-static system.

speed travel airplane

When an aircraft is in flight or speeding down the runway, the air gets forced into the opening of the pitot tube and is measured, while static pressure measures just that — static air conditions. Indicated airspeed is simply calculated by measuring the difference between the dynamic, pitot pressure and static pressure.

But that's not the most accurate metric once an aircraft is airborne. Different temperatures, atmospheric pressure and other factors mean that this airspeed must be converted into something more realistic and usable at higher altitudes.

That's what true airspeed is.

True airspeed adjusts indicated airspeed for a number of factors. Most importantly, it adjusts it for the temperature and pressure at higher altitudes — as an aircraft climbs, the temperature generally decreases and the air pressure always decreases. Once we make those adjustments, think of true airspeed as how fast the air is moving over the aircraft's wings at a particular altitude.

Pilots actually rely on another type of speed during the cruise — and it's technically not a speed at all. Mach number is the ratio of true airspeed to the speed of sound, and it's highly influenced by atmospheric conditions, especially temperature. It's a highly accurate way of fine-tuning speed in a particular area, and it's the unit that air traffic controllers use to separate traffic at higher altitudes.

Some typical airspeeds

  • Boeing 737 NG/MAX: Mach 0.78, about 450 knots true airspeed.
  • Airbus A320 family: Mach 0.78, about 450 knots true airspeed.
  • Boeing 787 Dreamliner: Mach 0.85, about 488 knots true airspeed.
  • Airbus A350: Mach 0.85, about 488 knots true airspeed.
  • Airbus A330: Mach 0.82, about 470 knots true airspeed.
  • Boeing 757: Mach 0.80, about 461 knots true airspeed.
  • Concorde: Mach 2.02, about 1,176 knots true airspeed.

What is an airplane's average groundspeed?

Finally, groundspeed is perhaps the most simple of the speeds. It's an aircraft's speed across the ground that gets adjusted for winds and altitude. For example, if an A321 has a true airspeed of 460 knots (529 mph), but is flying from New York to Los Angeles during the winter when head winds can be very strong, the actual groundspeed will be less. If it's facing a head wind component of 100 knots (115 mph) — which is entirely possible that time of year — its actual groundspeed would be a glacial 360 knots (414 mph), and you'd be looking at a very long trip to the West Coast. Still, the Mach number would remain unchanged, because the true airspeed is unchanged.

Related: How pilots predict bad weather and keep your flights smooth

Since an aircraft's groundspeed is highly influenced by the winds it encounters aloft, there's no groundspeed associated with individual aircraft types. A general rule of thumb is that an aircraft's groundspeed can be anywhere from 350 knots (in a stiff head wind) to 550 knots (in a strong tail wind). Of course, there are outliers. Each winter, there are often stories about aircraft encountering very strong tail winds when headed east over the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes, these are in excess of 700 knots groundspeed, or 805 mph. These aircraft are actually not going any faster than normal — in fact, some might even slow down to conserve fuel given the strong winds. However, by taking advantage of the wind, they're able to travel at incredibly fast speeds.

Of course, the aircraft headed westbound aren't as lucky. The dispatchers for those aircraft will often plan a more circuitous route — one that's a longer distance — in order to avoid the strong head winds. Traveling a longer distance is worth it because the aircraft will save more fuel than it would on a more direct routing that takes the aircraft directly into head winds.

Bottom line

There's no easy way to answer how fast an airplane flies. But for the flying public, the easiest answer is probably groundspeed. It's how fast your flight is traveling directly over the ground, and has the largest direct impact to 8888.

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Plane Speed: How Fast Do You Need To Fly?

How important is speed in an airplane and how much is it worth?

By Isabel Goyer , Budd Davisson Updated November 13, 2023 Save Article

There’s no shame in admitting that when we pilots read flight reports, we skim the plane’s specs, looking for the cruise speed, before going back and reading the rest. We all love the idea of going fast. But how fast is fast? And is there such a thing as fast enough? Or is it a case of the tortoise versus the hare? (Hint: It’s not.)

Even though the aviation world is largely one of knots and not miles per hour, when it comes to speed, some of us still think in terms mph. For years, manufacturers were the worst offenders, especially Mooney, which made the 200-mph such a goal that it named one of its planes the “201.” And we admit that 200-mph looks a lot faster than 175 knots, even though they’re just decimal points apart in actual value. Though it’s lost a lot of its luster over the past couple of decades, in general aviation, 200 mph remains a significant marker, a kind of imaginary speed barrier for single-engine aircraft. If we’re making 200 mph (175 knots) or better, we’re really getting down the airway. With the advent of a number of slippery, big-engine singles, most notably the Cirrus SR22, 200 knots might well be the new benchmark of how fast fast is. There’s no doubt but that today’s buyers of high-end, high-performance planes want to see that number.

And for the sake of standardization, Plane & Pilot has adopted the FAA’s knots-first editorial policy, which for the past 35 years has been an industry standard. And when we discuss speeds, whether mph or knots, we’re referring to true airspeed, (technically abbreviated as “ktas”), which is the plane’s speed through the air, which is calculated from the calibrated airspeed and adjusting for the variables of air density and temperature.

speed

The big question remains, though. What does speed mean in real terms? What kind of advantages do those fast movers enjoy, and is it worth what you have to pay for it?

The answers are, there are a lot of advantages, some big, some not so big, and the costs can be great. Can they be too great? Good question. Let’s look at some real-world cases.

But first, it’s important to get a grasp of your typical mission. If your prime travel distance is, for the same of choosing a round number, 500 nautical miles, then one could make a compelling argument that you don’t need the fastest of the fast to make that trip reliably and regularly. But unless you’re making a permanent move, cross-country trips don’t end at the first fuel stop or the eventual “destination.” The destination is, in fact, almost always back home. If you’re making a multi-day trip, which most long cross countries in a small piston-engine plane will be, regardless of how fast the plane is, then you can treat the mission as two separate trips on two separate days. Fair enough. But if you’re planning to be home again that evening, then speed is an even more critical part of the calculus. In fact, without a fast plane, a 500-nm trip out and back again with three hours on the ground at the destination isn’t doable in daylight in most of the Lower-48 United States during the daylight available most of the year. And super long days with a trip home late in the evening almost guarantees less than optimal human performance on those last legs.

But in terms of the simple math, again with that 500-mile trip, which is average for most pilots, how much does speed get you? What’s the difference between cruising at 138 knots, something that most Cessna 182s can do) and 174 knots, something that most mid-60’s to present-day Beech Bonanzas can pull off? It doesn’t take a math wizard to see the Bonanza saves 36 minutes on that trip. Is the time worth what it costs to save it? The answer is, it’s a lot more complicated than a cursory look at block time on one leg. Real-world cross-country flying is all about taking all the parameters into account, and that means looking realistically at weather, optimum altitudes, passenger needs and the amount of daylight you have to work with—winter days are short. When you begin factoring in considerations such as required alternates on an IFR flight plan or thunderstorm diversions, the process can get complicated, and pilots need to have a solid grasp of all of the variables that go into planning any particular trip. So is the extra speed worth it? In the small picture, maybe not. But when you take a wider view of what cross-country flying is all about, the additional speed is priceless.

times-versus-speed

Airplanes as fast as that legendary 200 mph (which we’ll think of here as 175 knots) always have the increased maintenance of retractable gear (Cirrus and Lancair excluded) and big motors, and almost always have higher acquisition costs. Within the traditional general aviation fleet, however, there are actually only a few airplanes that can honestly claim to cruise 200 mph. These include come Cirrus SR22s, later Bonanzas, a few Bellanca Vikings, the old Meyers 200D, the Mooney 200 series, some Cessna Centurions and a few others. The big question is how much time is extra speed actually saving you, and is it worth the additional expense and potential hassle?

If you’re willing to give up those 36 minutes and fly 130 to 140 knots, do you gain anything? The most obvious advantage is that it costs less to get into the game to begin with. Even though the tried-and-true Skylane is probably the most expensive airplane in its category, it’s still cheaper than most of the fast movers, and early square-tail Skylanes can still be found, that is, if you look hard enough and get a little lucky. But what if you desperately want the bragging rights that go with a 175 knot cruise speed? Or what if you really do need that speed on long trips? Is there such a thing as cheap speed, and how do we evaluate it?

speed

Maybe what we should be talking about here isn’t raw, dollars-be-damned speed, but miles per dollar—how much does each knot cost us (and the cost has to be defined as not only the gas being burned, but also what it costs to get into that seat in the first place). Plus, we need to apply some kind of factor for maintenance, which is going to be a pure guess. (Note: The legacy chart is in mph.)

When you start talking speeds over 140 kts, you’ve automatically stepped into the land of retractable gear (again, excluding Cirrus, Cessna’s TTx and a number of lesser known homebuilts) and, as you move up past around 155 knots, the pickings start to get pretty slim. Let’s look at some candidates and see how they stack up when you compare their stats (see “The True Costs Of Speed” chart). Be advised, however, that there’s some Kentucky windage here in terms of fuel burn, and we’re basing our speeds on published specs that often are questionable. Still, it gives us something that can put airplanes in positions relative to one another.

The physics behind fuel efficiency haven’t changed in the last 10 years, thank goodness. In big bore singles, fuel efficiency tends to be around 11 to 12 mpg, though the smaller engine Mooneys will get you around 20 mpg. That’s because Mooneys give up some cabin comfort to keep the frontal area down, plus they have worked really hard at making themselves aerodynamically efficient at higher altitudes. The net result is that they’re delivering higher speeds with smaller motors (200 hp), which translates to better overall efficiency. Additionally, some of the early, small Mooneys are not as fast as the later ones, but are relatively low-priced and still deliver 145 to 155 kts on 180 horses with 9 to 10 gph fuel burns.

Another way to look at the speed is how much we have to pay for each additional mile per hour of speed when buying the airplane. Even when using Bluebook aircraft values as comparisons, which are usually low, it shows that airplanes like the Bonanza, which are much larger and more luxurious, but nowhere nearly as efficient as the Mooneys, command higher prices. Therefore, on a dollar-per-knot basis, they’re much more expensive, plus they’re way down in the fuel-efficiency curve. So why do people buy Bonanzas over Mooneys? Probably because they like the comfort and don’t object to burning a little more gas. So, once you’re going fast, other factors apparently count, as well. (Please note that the pricing figures were 2016 estimates. Times have changed, and so have prices.

true-costs-of-speed

Range: The Great Equalizer, Up To A Point With all this talk of speed, there’s one other factor that has to be tossed into the decision equation: range. How far will it go without making a fuel stop? When we’re talking 500-mile trips, that’s not usually a factor because just about everything has at least 500 nm of range, but a funny thing happens when we stretch that trip out to 1,200 miles. Suddenly, fuel capacity becomes a really big deal.

Let’s say you’re flying a 300 hp, 1980 Bellanca Viking that actually does deliver its advertised 175 kt cruise speed. Its spec sheet says its range is barely 600 miles (and we’ll bet that isn’t at 175 knots. So, to safely make 1,200 miles and still have some reserve, it would have to stop twice to get gas. The actual time in the air would be 5.9 hours (probably longer, since spec sheet range numbers usually are at economy settings, but speed is quoted at 75%). Two fuel stops, however, are going to add 1.5 hours (45 minutes per stop, which is conservative) for a total of 7.3 hours. For a trip of 1,000 miles, the Bellanca looks good again. But that second fuel stop on a really long mission is a killer.

speed

Still, back to that hypothetical 1,200 trip. Now, let’s say your lowly Cessna 182 is plodding along at 140 kts, but burning significantly less gas. More importantly, it’s a newer model with 88-gallon tanks, which, according to the specifications, gives just under 800-nm of range. So, it easily can make it with only one stop. Seven and a half hours of flying, plus 0.7 of ground time, gives you 8.2 hours of total elapsed time. So, the much faster Bellanca Viking only got there 55 minutes faster. But are all of those things a really big deal on such a long trip?

Often they’re not, but when it comes to multiple legs, even short ones, speed can make a huge difference. A flight of 400-nm miles won’t require a fuel stop for any of these planes, but the time saved flying a much faster airplane will translate into not just one faster trip, but potentially three, or on a long, busy day, maybe four. Getting back home a couple of hours earlier, or maybe just getting back home at all instead of having to hotel it at the last stop, is worth a lot.

turbocharged-speed-comparison

Now, let’s toss in aftermarket auxiliary tanks so we can be flying an earlier, and much less expensive, Cessna 182 (or Cherokee 235 or!). This extra 23 gallons gives the early airplanes another 1.7 hours for a total range of about 800 miles. So, now we’re flying an airplane that may have cost us as little as $50,000 (a fixer-upper, like a 1959 C-182), but we came in only 55 minutes behind the blazing Viking after a daylong trip. If you do a lot of long cross-countries, installing auxiliary tanks could be considered the best and most effective speed mod.

How about comparing the Cessna Skylane to a 300 hp A36 Bonanza ? The Bonanza costs around three times more than the C-182, but the Bonanza can make the 1,200 miles with one fuel stop so it would get there 1.5 hours quicker. Okay, so after a 1,200-mile trip, the Bonanza folks will be at the gate hours sooner than the Cessna would be. The 182’s cost of operation is pennies compared to the Bonanza’s, especially when you factor in insurance, cost of acquisition and maintenance. You have to decide what that extra time is worth to you. Is it worth an extra $100,000 to $200,000 in acquisition and at least twice the support cost to save a couple of hours on that 1,200-mile trip you take only every other year? On the other hand, if you’re routinely flying trips that long, speed is worth every penny.

speed

Turbos Make A Difference An aircraft equipped with a turbocharger is always going to offer increased speed and fuel efficiency over its normally aspirated counterpart because it will hold its power to a higher altitude where it gets really fast and burns less gas. The only downside to turbochargers is that they increase the maintenance and acquisition costs, and some require a bit more pilot technique.

In terms of performance, a blown A36, as an example, is supposed to cruise at 190 knots compared to a normally aspirated version at 169 knots, and a TC Saratoga will do 177 knots) versus 158 knots), while the range goes up 56 miles to a whopping 825 nautical miles. (See the “Turbocharged Speed Comparison” chart.)

It might be worth noting that while we don’t normally think of any version of a Skylane as being a speed demon, the TC182RG runs right at 173 kts. Also, the TC210 Turbo Centurion series is a real sleeper at 197 knots, while the pressurized P210R is capable of running an unbelievable 212 knots at altitude. Now, that’s really getting down the road!

So, What’s Fast Enough? The concept of “fast enough” is strictly subject to personal definition. For some, there is no such thing. For others, flying is its own reward, and they’re more than happy to get there when they get there. For most, however, the decision involves a complex interplay between the complicated considerations of long cross-country flights, along with the pilot/owner’s wants, needs and financial capabilities: In most cases we want speed, but how much do we really need it and can we afford it? In this day and age of skyrocketing prices for used planes, especially fast ones, the circle is getting harder to square, though there are still great options if you’re willing to part with a bit more of your hard-earned dollars. Then again, dollars versus dream plane is an equation airplane owners have been doing since they looked at their first used plane.

Are you looking for cheap ways to fly faster? Check out our article Speed Without Mods .

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The Fastest Airplanes Commercial Passengers Can Fly

Eric Rosenberg

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

I’m lucky to have grown up in a family where we were always flying around the country, visiting family and enjoying an occasional vacation. But I’ll never forget watching "Top Gun" with my dad as a kid, amazed by the military fighter jets that could roar off of an aircraft carrier before ripping past the speed of sound. To this day, I often listen to the title song, "Danger Zone," as my much slower commercial flights accelerate down the runway.

While only military pilots get the thrill of regularly passing the speed of sound, large commercial planes regularly travel at speeds over 600 mph. Here's what to know about the fastest airplanes commercial passengers can fly, and which airlines are flying them.

What is the fastest commercial passenger jet?

For current commercial airline passengers, the fastest way to get around is the Boeing 747-8i, with a top speed of nearly 660 mph. But with limited options, you may find yourself going just a little slower on a competing alternative.

» Learn more: Our writers draft their favorite airlines

The fastest commercial passenger airliners that are in use

Boeing 747-8.

The 747 is one of the largest commercial aircraft ever built, and the 747-8 Intercontinental (747-8i) variant wins the race as the fastest commercial plane in service today. This plane is as tall as a six-story building with a top speed of Mach 0.86. That’s equivalent to 659.85 mph.

The 747-8i has a range of 7,730 nautical miles and a capacity of 410 passengers.

Unfortunately, it isn't the most accessible plane to catch a ride on, since the options are limited to Lufthansa, Korean Air, Cathay Pacific, Air China and Qatar Airways.

Boeing 747-400

A member of the same Boeing 747 family, the 747-400 is a behemoth that can catapult 416 passengers across the world with a maximum speed of Mach 0.855 (656 mph). With a range of up to 7,225 nautical miles, it’s most commonly used for busy long-haul routes with high demand.

With a maximum takeoff weight of 875,000 pounds, operating a plane of this size isn't cheap. So it is no surprise that the number of places you can fly on a 747-400 is dwindling. According to flight-tracking website FlightRadar24 , current operators include Lufthansa , Korean Air, Rossiya, Air India and Air China.

Airbus A380

The Airbus A380 superjumbo is the largest passenger aircraft in operation and has a front-to-back two-story design. The A380 typically seats 400 to 550 passengers for trips over 9,000 miles. If filled to maximum capacity with one cabin class, it could potentially seat 853 people. It’s so big that some airports can’t handle the massive size.

The A380 reaches speeds of Mach 0.85, just a hair behind the 747-400. That translates to 652 mph. While the A380 ended production in 2020, 15 airlines still fly the A380. These include Air France , British Airways , Emirates, Etihad, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Qantas , Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

The 787 Dreamliner had a rocky start, with battery fire problems causing the entire fleet to sit on the ground while a fix was rolled out. These days, due to lower operating costs and other modern features (like higher cabin oxygen and humidity), the aircraft is growing in popularity with international airlines.

The aircraft is propelled by two General Electric and Rolls-Royce engines at speeds reaching Mach 0.85, or 652 mph, making it the fastest single-aisle passenger aircraft in operation.

The Dreamliner is generally known to be quieter and more comfortable, so you may reach your destination with a little less jet lag. You’ll also get better views due to its larger windows with electronic dimming.

If you’re going to fly a long distance, this may be the most comfortable way to go without flying private. Major domestic carriers, including American Airlines and United Airlines , are among the extensive list of 787 customers .

The 777 is a workhorse for overseas flights with variations, like the 777-8 with a range of up to 8,730 nautical miles and the newer 777-9 configuration with a range of 7,285 nautical miles.

The “Triple Seven” flies at Mach 0.84, or 644 mph and can hold up to 426 passengers.

You have several options to get on board a 777. Major carriers flying this model include Aeromexico, Air Canada , Air France, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific , Delta Air Lines , El Al Israel Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Japan Airlines , KLM Royal Dutch, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines and United Airlines.

Do you want to go faster?

The supersonic Concorde aircraft used to be the quickest way to travel. It had an impressive cruising speed of 1,350 mph, or Mach 1.75. That’s fast enough to make it from New York to London in under three hours. But those planes are long out of service, with the last flight taking place in 2003.

It’s not common, but you may be able to get somewhere faster by lucking out and catching a jet stream that occasionally brings faster speeds to planes on the way to North America from Europe. In 2019, one such flight reached 801 mph when surfing the jetstream over the Atlantic.

You can fly fast on the fastest planes in the world

While it may be fun to see over 600 mph on the in-flight entertainment screen, keep in mind that you’re probably only saving a few minutes once you take into account airport parking, security and ground transportation. If you’re flying commercial on any of these planes, know that you’re enjoying one of the fastest, safest and most convenient ways to travel ever invented.

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speed travel airplane

Travel On The Fly

How Fast Do Planes Fly? (Speeds and Facts)

Have you ever been in a plane and wondered: how fast do planes fly? It sure doesn’t feel like you’re going fast while inside the aircraft. But that’s because most planes fly at a constant speed, once at cruising altitude.

A commercial plane flying fast at Altitude - How fast do planes fly?

You’ll feel the acceleration as you take off, just like you would when you accelerate in a car. But once you reach a constant speed, it feels like you’re not moving.

So you might be surprised to hear that a commercial aircraft flies at a higher speed, nearly 10 times the speed of a car on the highway.

Commercial aircraft fly at approximately 900 km per hour or 550 miles per hour. This is their cruising speed, which describes the speed of the plane once it reaches its maximum altitude.

Table of Contents

Speed by airplane type

Commercial airliners like the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 are built to carry passengers and cargo over long distances fast, typically cruising around 550-600 miles per hour or 885-965 kph. 

Military fighter jets like the F-16 and F-35 are designed for speed and agility, reaching speeds of over 1,500 miles per hour (2400 kph) and used for air-to-air combat, ground attack missions, and reconnaissance. 

As far back as the late 1960s, the SR-71 Blackbird set the speed record of Mach 3.3 (2,193 mph / 3,530 kph). Both the A-12 Oxcart and the SR-71 Blackbird have speed records, and both achieved speeds of Mach 3.3 (2,193 mph / 3,530 kph). The SR-71 Blackbird was a military aircraft specifically designed for flight at over Mach 3, with a flight crew of two in tandem cockpits.

As the air entered the engine, it slowed to subsonic speed due to the aerodynamics of the air intakes. The aircraft’s speed itself was designed to maximize its efficiency at Mach 3.2. The SR-71 Blackbird was a remarkable achievement in aviation technology, and its speed record is a testament to the ingenuity and innovation of the engineers and designers who created it.

Did you know that the North American X-15 is currently the fastest plane in the world? It set a record of reaching Mach 6.7, which translates to a speed of approximately 4,500 miles per hour or 7,200 kilometers per hour.

Jet planes and military jets obviously need more power (known for their speed and power) to achieve maximum efficiency at high speeds and even going supersonic. Smaller passenger-style jets routinely have a cruising speed of about Mach 0.75-0.78 and typically fly only up to about 40,000+ feet.

Business jets, such as the Gulfstream G650 and Bombardier Global 7500, are designed for executives and other high-level personnel who must travel quickly and comfortably, cruising around 500-600 miles per hour or about 900 kph. 

General aviation planes, aircraft types such as Cessnas and Pipers, are smaller planes used for personal and recreational flying, with a cruising speed of around 100-200 miles per hour or with top speeds of 160-320 kph.

The four different types of airspeed

Indicated airspeed (IAS) is the aircraft’s speed, which is read off the airspeed indicator in the cockpit and is what pilots reference when making speed changes. Accurate speed readings are essential for pilots to make informed decisions and ensure the safety of their passengers and crew.

True airspeed (TAS) is the actual speed of the airplane relative to the air mass in which it is flying. This is important for pilots to know because air mass can affect the speed and performance of the plane. For example, if the plane is flying into a headwind, the true airspeed will be slower than indicated airspeed. Understanding true airspeed helps pilots make adjustments to their flight plan and ensure that they arrive at their destination safely and on time.

Groundspeed (GS) is the movement of the airplane relative to the aircraft’s ground speed, and is true airspeed corrected for wind. This is especially important for pilots during takeoff and landing, as they need to know their groundspeed to ensure a safe and smooth landing. Groundspeed is also important for navigation and flight planning, as it helps pilots calculate their estimated time of arrival and adjust their flight plan if necessary.

Calibrated airspeed (CAS) is indicated airspeed corrected for instrument and position errors. This helps pilots ensure that their instruments are properly calibrated and that they are getting accurate readings. Accurate airspeed readings are crucial for pilots to make informed decisions and ensure the safety of their passengers and crew. Understanding calibrated airspeed is essential for pilots to operate their planes safely and efficiently, especially during critical phases of flight such as takeoff and landing.

How fast do planes take off?

Most commercial airplanes and jetliners take off at about 150 to 175 miles per hour or about 250 kph. Typically, the smaller the aircraft, the slower the plane has to go for takeoff. This is because smaller aircraft are lighter, so it doesn’t take as much momentum and thus more fuel just to take off. Small light aircraft take off under 100 miles per hour(160 kph); some even take off at 50 mph or 80 kph.

Take off speed does not just depend on the type or weight of the airplane. It also depends on atmospheric conditions: wind speed, outside, air pressure, temperature, wind resistance, and air density.

Fixed aircraft, like a commercial plane or jet, require air in order to generate lift and ultimately fly. So, commercial planes and jet planes fly often fly into the wind to help generate the lift needed for takeoff. A headwind will help lift the wings allowing for an efficient takeoff.

On the other hand, it is more difficult to take off with a tailwind. The back of the plane and its wings do not have the same direction of aerodynamics to help generate more lift off.

So, now you know that planes need air to generate lift for take off. But planes have difficulty taking off in warm climates because they don’t get as much lift from thin air. In cooler temperatures, the air is thick, which facilitates takeoff.

The warmer the air, the less dense it is. Warm air has less water, and is therefore less dense.

How fast does a 747 fly?

Boeing 747

The Boeing 747 flies at about 550 miles per hour (885 kph) at cruising altitude. This large aircraft takes off at 175 miles per hour to 200 miles per hour (220 kph). This is the upper limit of speed required for take off. Because of the Boeing’s sheer size, it needs quite a bit of speed to get off the ground.

Do planes fly at maximum speed?

No, planes do not always fly fast or at their maximum speed. Flying at maximum speed is incredibly fuel-inefficient. It would cost the airlines thousands of extra dollars to have commercial planes fly slower too , which would increase ticket prices. The time saved going at max speed to your destination does not justify the amount of money spent for the airline or the passengers.

Accelerating to max speed won’t be comfortable for passengers, either.

What is the fastest plane in the world today?

The fastest plane in the world today is the North American X-15. It recorded a maximum speed of Mach 6.7. The plane was flying at about 4,500 miles per hour or about 7,200 km per hour. The pilot was flying at an altitude of 102,000 feet.

How fast do planes take off from aircraft carriers?

Planes will take off from aircraft carriers at about 150 to 180 miles per hour (260 kph). Light aircraft do not need as much speed to take off; they require just 50 to 100 miles per hour (about 120 kph).

Whether a plane is taking off from an aircraft carrier or a runway in a commercial airport, the speed required is the same. It primarily depends on the sea level, various weather conditions as well other factors such as the direction and speed of the wind.

A headwind will reduce the takeoff speed of powered aircraft, because the air from opposite direction will travel under the wings and generate lift. Cooler temperatures also reduce the take off speed, thanks to the dense air that helps lift the plane.

How fast are planes going when they land?

Planes move at about 150 to 180 miles per hour (260 kph ) when they land and take off. They must slow down drastically from their top speed of 500+ miles per hour to land safely and stay inside the runway.

Can a plane fly around the world in 24 hours?

Yes, but is it possible to fly around the world in 24 hours? Unlikely. This is not realistic for a commercial aircraft with passengers. The circumference of the earth is 24,901 miles (over 40,000 km). This means that the plane’s speed would need to go about 1,040 miles per hour (1675 kph) to make it around the entire Earth in one day. This is possible for a modern day jet, but most commercial aircraft fly at about 500 to 550 miles per hour (800 kph).

Today’s longest non stop commercial flights range from about 8,000 to 9,500 miles (14,500 km) in 16 to 18 hours. Flights this long are incredibly taxing on the pilots, too. They typically rotate flying duties between four people and sleep in between shifts. Adding six to eight hours to the longest flight times ever recorded would be quite the feat.

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How Fast Do Airplanes Go?

Joe Haygood

August 30, 2022

This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

Airplanes go fast — like really fast. Let’s just get that out of the way. But the question is how fast do planes really go?

Airplanes travel at speeds ranging anywhere from just over 100 mph up to nearly 2,200 mph. Personal aircraft typically travel between 120 - 200 mph; commercial airplanes fly between 500 - 700 mph, and military aircraft can travel at speeds around 1,200 - 2,200 mph.

If you’ve ever been in an airplane of any kind, and we’re guessing most of you reading this have, then you know that they fly fast. But there’s a big difference between a single-engine turboprop and a jet-powered military aircraft. In this article, we’ll take a look at the top speeds of some of the most common aircraft in each class as well as how planes are able to travel at such high speeds to begin with.

Everything that you read in this article is the culmination of hours of research combined with expertise in the aviation industry — whether our own or through discussions with pilots and other experts. All the speed information for specific airplanes are taken directly from the manufacturer’s specs, so you can rest assured knowing that everything you read is as accurate as possible.

Table of contents

‍ how fast do airplanes fly.

Whether you’ve flown in a commercial jet to head to your favorite vacation spot, or you’re training to become a pilot and have flown some smaller aircraft yourself, there’s one thing for certain. Airplanes can fly fast. Planes can fly anywhere from around 100 mph up to thousands of miles per hour, it just depends on what kind of plane and what its purpose is.

Take a look at the tables below to get an idea of how fast personal aircraft, commercial airliners, and military jets fly to see the massive differences between the classes of aircraft.

How Do Airplanes Fly So Fast?

We all know that airplanes travel fast, but how are they able to do so? In your car on the highway, you might drive about 70 mph. But as you can see in the tables above, planes go much faster than that. Even learner planes for beginners. So how do they do it? There are two main components that go into how fast a plane can travel — power and aerodynamics. We could go on for days about each one of these on their own, but we’ll just touch on the basics here.

The biggest factor in how fast a plane can fly is also typically the biggest factor in how fast a car can really go at its maximum speed — power. Smaller, single-engine planes typically use a propeller engine to make their power, and some use piston engines somewhat similar to what you could find in your car. But the bigger and faster planes use turbine engines that produce enormous amounts of thrust.

No matter what the power source of the plane is, they are typically able to produce a significant amount of power that’s able to overcome the wind resistance and carry the heavy weight of the plane at incredible speeds.

Aerodynamics

Other than the power produced by the plane’s engines, the next most important aspect of how fast they can fly is their precisely-engineered aerodynamics. As we just alluded to above, the plane’s engines produce more than enough power to overcome wind resistance, but the aerodynamics of the design really help the plane slice through the air.

In general, the more aerodynamic a plane is and the more power it produces, the faster it can potentially fly.

Does A Tailwind Make A Plane Fly Faster?

Before we go into any details about whether or not a tailwind makes a plane fly faster (or if a headwind makes it fly slower), let’s take a quick look at what tailwind and headwind are. Simply put, a tailwind is a wind that is blowing in the same direction that the plane is flying. A headwind is just the opposite, blowing against the direction that the plane is moving in.

As you can probably guess from that, a tailwind will make a plane fly faster and a headwind will make a plane fly slower. Right?

Well in general, yes. Having a tailwind will enable the plane to fly faster, whereas a headwind can reduce the speed of the aircraft. In some cases, the pilot may wish to reduce their throttle in a tailwind or increase their throttle in a headwind to maintain a constant speed, but that usually isn’t necessary.

In this case of a tailwind, it’s much more efficient to just let the wind speed up the aircraft and shorten the total flight time. This effect is evidenced by looking at flights from New York City to LA and comparing them to flight times from LA to New York City.

Going east to west (NYC to LA), planes will be fighting a headwind in most cases (since wind typically goes west to east). With that in mind, it takes around 5 hours and 23 minutes to fly from NYC to LA in a standard commercial airplane. If you’re flying in the opposite direction (LA to NYC), you’ll have a tailwind. The total flight time is then reduced to around 4 hours and 47 minutes, just because of the wind.

What’s The Fastest A Plane Has Flown?

While smaller personal aircraft and commercial airliners can certainly travel pretty fast — a few hundred miles per hour or more — they’re nothing compared to the speed that some jet aircraft can reach. And of all the jet aircraft in the world, there is but one true king when it comes to speed records.

The Lockheed Martin SR-71 Blackbird.

Built as a strategic reconnaissance aircraft in the 1960s, the SR-71 Blackbird was designed for stealth and speed. It needed to be able to deliver its crew of two into and out of areas as quickly as possible without being detected.

To achieve this, the aircraft was designed to fly at an astounding Mach 3.3 — that’s 3.3 times the speed of sound. In layman’s terms, that’s a speed of around 2,100 miles per hour. Just let that sink in. That sort of speed is roughly 4 times faster than the typical commercial airliner flies.

Just think about it this way, in an SR-71 Blackbird, you’d be able to make a flight over the entire continental United States in less than an hour and a half!

What Happens When A Plane Breaks The Sound Barrier?

Breaking the sound barrier is often thought of as one of the coolest things that planes can do. You see it in movies and on TV, but what does that actually mean to break the sound barrier and how fast do planes need to be traveling to do so?

We’ll spare you some of the details of the sound barrier and how it works, but here’s a quick rundown so that you have an idea of what it means for a plane to break the sound barrier. At sea level and standard atmospheric conditions, sound travels in waves moving at 770 miles per hour (345 meters per second). This speed will change based on temperature and, therefore, altitude, but we’ll use it as a baseline for this discussion.

So as a plane, usually reserved for military aircraft, is flying overhead, it is of course emitting soundwaves. These sound waves are traveling at the finite speed of sound, so as the jet approaches the speed that these waves are moving, they begin to almost pile up together at the front of the nose. At the point just before the jet breaks the speed of sound, it is moving at the same speed as the sound waves in front of it.

But with sufficient speed and acceleration, the jet can push through these sound waves as it moves faster than the sound itself. When the jet breaks through the built-up pressure of all the sound waves at the front of its nose, there is a massive change in pressure as the waves fill the void where the jet was previously. This change in pressure within the sound waves creates the sonic boom that you’ve likely heard in videos and movies — it sounds like a massive explosion as the plane flies by.

Once a jet is moving faster than the speed of sound, it’ll appear to fly by in eerie silence as it’s traveling faster than the sound it produces. After it flies by, people on the ground would be able to finally hear its noise. Seeing a jet break the speed of sound can be one of the most intriguing things to witness in aviation.

This is, of course, not an issue for most planes that you’ll be flying or riding in — small aircraft or commercial jets — as you likely won’t ever be reaching speeds of over 770 miles per hour!

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About THE AUTHOR

Joe Haygood

After spending years watching every video I could find about flying, I finally scratched the itch and got my pilots license. Now I fly every chance I get, and share the information I learn, here.

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Learn all about planes and pilots, and even how to fly, with SkyTough. We'll explore the ins and outs of the sky and how to travel through it. Read more about us, here .

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What's the Difference Between Airspeed and Ground Speed?

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Back in February 2019, a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 jet flying over Pennsylvania in route from Los Angeles to London reached what might seem like an amazing speed of 801 miles per hour (1,289 kilometers per hour), according to CBS News .

But the speed record wasn't because that Virgin Atlantic aircraft itself was exceptionally fast. Like a sprinter running with the wind at his back, the aircraft benefited from an exceptionally fast jet stream , a high-speed wind moving at 231 miles per hour (371.7 kilometers per hour). It was the fastest jet stream in more than 60 years.

As CBS News explained, the result was that the 787 flew considerably faster than the aircraft's typical cruising speed of 561 miles per hour (902.8 kilometers per hour).

Therein lies the difference between airspeed and ground speed.

As this explainer on the NASA website details, ground speed is how fast an airplane is traveling, relative to a fixed point on the ground. Think of it this way: Ground speed is how fast an airplane's shadow would move across the land. If there's a strong wind pushing an aircraft, that's reflected in the ground speed.

Airspeed, in contrast, is how fast an airplane is really flying strictly under its own power, which is calculated by subtracting the wind speed from the ground speed. NASA explains :

Airspeed doesn't just affect airplanes. It also affects our vehicles on the ground. As this study published in 2013 in the International Journal of Energy and Environmental Engineering describes, a car's airspeed on the highway is what really determines its fuel efficiency , rather than ground speed or the speedometer reading.

As NASA points out, a kite has a ground speed of 0 miles per hour, because you're holding it on the end of a string. But since it moves in the air, it has an airspeed that's equal to the speed of the wind.

Please copy/paste the following text to properly cite this HowStuffWorks.com article:

Flying commercial airplane - air travel.

Simple Flying

The world's fastest passenger aircraft: past, present, and future.

At the peak of the supersonic era, passenger jets raced across the sky at over twice the speed of sound. While today we have to settle for cruising speeds just over 1,000 km/h, one company intends to have us back breaking the sound barrier within five years. And if Boeing's R&D department has its way, by 2050 planes will do London to New York in as little as two hours.Much has happened since the first airspeed was estimated on December 17th, 1903. The very first flight, lasting 12 about seconds and 37 meters, was believed by the Wright brothers to have reached a speed of 50 km/h.Fast forward about half a century, and the height of the Cold War and the space race also saw a rivalry between East and West for the fastest passenger aircraft on Earth.

Stay informed:  Sign up for our  daily aviation news digest .

TU-144 vs. Concorde

While there seems to be some discussion as to which of the previous supersonic commercial aircraft to grace the sky was actually the fastest, the generally accepted figures put the Soviet-built Tupolev TU-144 ahead of the Concorde. The Russian version also beat the British-French model to the supersonic punch.

The TU-144 first took flight on New Year's Eve 1968, a few months before its Western counterpart. It had a maximum speed of Mach 2.29 (2,430 km/h) but normally averaged around Mach 1.6. "Normally" is a relative term, as the glory days of the TU-144 were short-lived.

The aircraft was retired from passenger service in 1978, merely a year after performing its first passenger flight for Aeroflot. By then, it had completed only 55 passenger flights, but it had also been involved in two fatal accidents.

One occurred at the Paris Air Show in 1973, the cause of which is still unknown. The other happened during a test flight in Russia in 1978, due to a ruptured fuel line. The latter was the main reason for the plane being deemed as unsafe for passenger travel.

BA concorde take off

It did remain active beyond that as a training aircraft for pilots of the Buran space shuttle, and as a research aircraft for NASA on high-altitude atmosphere radiological conditions. The TU-144 conducted its final flight in June 1999.

Its supersonic rival, the legendary British-French Concorde, had a much longer life-span as a commercial passenger plane. Entering service in January 1976, it had a top speed of Mach 2.04 (2,180 km/h) at cruise altitude. It exited in 2003, having had one fatal accident three years prior when Air France flight 4590 crashed just after taking off from Paris-Charles de Gaulle.

Lufthansa, Cabin Crew, Strike

Fastest birds in the sky today

The two supersonic aircraft once available to passengers are not in service anymore, the fastest one after a blink-and-you'll-miss-it kind of career. And the one that is expected is still some years out (more on that further down). So what are the subsonic heroes of today?

The fastest passenger aircraft in service today is the Boeing 747-8i, also known as the 747-8 Intercontinental. This model of the Queen of the Skies has a top speed of Mach 0.86. Unfortunately, it is not that easy to catch a ride on one as she is only in service with three airlines - Lufthansa, Korean Air, and Air China.

Its sibling, the 747-400 clocks in at Mach 0.855, making it the second-fastest passenger jet still flying.

The super-jumbo, Airbus' A380, comes in at third spot, with a cruising speed of Mach 0.85. A place and speed it shares with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner. The 777 falls just short, with Mach 0.84.

Boom

The next generation: Boom Supersonic

But all that is set to change with the unveiling of a new demonstrator jet this October . In a year that has been basically all black for commercial aviation, could we also witness a giant leap forward in terms of technological advancement, connectivity, and a more democratic access to supersonic travel? That is what Boom Technology, an American start-up company , would like to see.

Its much-anticipated Boom Supersonic aircraft is described as the next generation of supersonic travel. While the XB-1 demonstrator will roll out in October 2020, its first flight is scheduled to take place in 2021.

The XB-1 demonstrator is supposed to be a one-third sized version of the actual plane. This is set to be introduced in 2025, be called Overture, seat 55 passengers, and have a top speed of Mach 2.2 (or 2335 km/h). Of course, it still won't beat the Tu-144 for the record.

Meanwhile, this means it will be able to fly from Tokyo to Seattle in 4 hours and 30 minutes. Or from Paris to Montreal in 3 hours and 45. It is also designed as a trijet, meaning it has three engines (called ramjets) powering its breakneck speed across the skies.

The company says that its aircraft will make supersonic air travel the new norm for anyone flying business class, with a seat-mile cost similar to the same product on subsonic jets.

However, while the plane will have the range for nonstop transatlantic crossings, it will not be able to make longer transpacific routes without stopping to refuel. Its manufacturers claim that passengers will not even notice the breaking through the "sound barrier," as it will maintain subsonic cruising speeds when over land.

Boom overture

Boeing preparing for Mach 5 speeds

Boeing has plans to create a passenger jet faster than anything civilian aviation has ever seen. It would have a speed of five times that of sound, or close to 6,000 km/h. This means a flight between London and New York would take around two hours. But it wonät be rolling out of the factory any time soon. Boeing hopes to have the aircraft in service sometime in the late 2040s.

Of course, until then, commercial jets are nowhere near there military counterparts in terms of speed. The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was a reconnaissance aircraft that had a top speed of 3,530 km/hr. Its missile evasion maneuver was basically to outfly it. This also means it would have made the stretch Bangkok to Helsinki in about two hours.

What does it actually mean for a commercial plane to hit 801 mph?

The jet stream propelled a 787 to super-fast speeds, but determining a plane’s velocity is a complex matter.

By Rob Verger | Published Feb 20, 2019 10:15 PM EST

Aviation photo

On Monday, a Boeing 787 operated by Virgin Atlantic hit an astounding ground speed: 801 miles per hour, the Washington Post reported .

That’s extraordinarily fast, and in fact, the plane reportedly landed early, a nice perk for everyone on board. But, at the same time, the aircraft was likely cruising at a typical speed for a commercial jet —and it definitely wasn’t going 801 mph through the air up at 35,000 feet. That’s because there’s a big difference between a plane’s airspeed and a plane’s ground speed. In this case, the plane, traveling from Los Angeles to London, was propelled by incredibly strong tailwinds, thanks to the jet stream. So it was moving fast compared to the ground, but at a normal speed compared to the air current it was in.

“This is mostly a weather event,” says Richard P. Anderson, a pilot and the director of the Eagle Flight Research Center at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. “The airplane doesn’t know its ground speed.”

By that he means that an airplane can’t sense, just based on the physics of the air around it, how fast it’s going compared to the ground, and it doesn’t matter to the aircraft at all what its ground speed is, either.

As for that weather event? The jetstream was moving at a record-breaking 231 mph. (The measurement for the jet stream was taken over New York, and the plane was above Pennsylvania when it hit 801 mph.) The plane was a hitchhiker on the powerful breeze. From November to March the jetstream is typically stronger and positioned over the continental United States, meaning that this was a plum time for the aircraft, traveling west to east, to surf that quick air.

To understand what happened, it also helps to consider the different ways speed is measured on a plane.

In your car, the speedometer tells you your rate of travel, and that’s that. But airplanes have multiple ways of representing their velocities. In fact, Anderson says there are three main metrics: the ground speed, the indicated airspeed, and the true airspeed. Pilots can see all three on big aircraft. Ground speed is measured using GPS, and indicated airspeed is measured using sensors on the plane called pitot tubes. True airspeed isn’t measured directly—the plane determines it based on calculations from the indicated airspeed, and is a different number. As the plane goes up in altitude, the difference between the indicated airspeed and true airspeed grows.

But true airspeed is the easiest to wrap your head around: it’s the speed of the plane compared to the air near it.

While pilots pay attention to indicated ground speed and true airspeed, passengers care about ground speed, Anderson says, “because that’s going to tell you when you get to the gate.” Fly west to east from the United States to Europe and hopefully the jetstream can help you get to Paris. Tailwinds make for a faster journey; headwinds slow you down; both are nice metaphors for other things in life.

A good comparison for a plane moving at a normal cruising speed but a fast ground speed because of tailwinds is to picture standing in a moving train car and throwing a paper airplane in the same direction the train is traveling. That plane will have a normal air speed, but once you factor in the speed of the train, it will have a super-duper fast ground speed.

As for that 801 mpg ground speed from that Virgin Atlantic plane? A Boeing representative says they have no comment on the matter, as they don’t track this type of statistic. Dreamliners, the type of aircraft involved, have a cruising speed of 85 percent the speed of sound.

Anderson says that it’s uncommon to see speeds like this, and that in this case, it’s due to the weather.

“As a pilot, when I’m flying my own airplane, what everybody wishes you is tailwinds,” he adds. “We always know how fast our airplane actually goes, so we‘re always jazzed when nature helps along with much higher speeds than we are justified in getting out of our airplane.”

Rob Verger

Rob Verger is the former Technology Editor at Popular Science. His expertise is in covering aviation, transportation, and military tech. Contact the author here.

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Jet Speeds Uncovered: How Fast Do Commerical Airplanes Fly?

Samantha Black

In this article we’ll discuss how fast commercial airplanes fly.

There are a lot of factors that go into how fast commercial aircraft fly. In this article we’ll go over all of these factors but before we do, here’s the flight speeds of many common commercial aircraft.

Cruising Speeds for Common Commercial Airplanes

Here is how fast common commercial airplanes fly. I’ve listed them in the following order; Aircraft Type, Cruise Mach, Knots, MPH.

  • Boeing 737 MAX, Mach 0.79, 453 kts, 521 mph
  • Airbus A320neo, Mach 0.78, 450 kts, 518 mph
  • Boeing 747-8, Mach 0.855, 490 kts, 564 mph
  • Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Mach 0.85, 488 kts, 562 mph
  • Airbus A380, Mach 0.85, 488 kts, 562 mph
  • Embraer EMB-145,  Mach 0.78, 450 kts 518 mph
  • Concorde SST (retired), Mach 1.75, 1,165 kts, 1,341 mph (Max speed Mach 2.04)

What Is a Commercial Plane?

When most people think of a commercial plane, they envision the airliner they’re booking tickets on. Commercial aviation has a lot of components, and airlines are the most visible part. 

The most common type of airliner used today is a twin-engine turbofan.

How fast do commercial airplanes fly

Boeing and Airbus are major manufacturers, although Embraer and several other makers are now making smaller models. These planes are designed and built based on the airlines’ need to carry so many people so many miles at a time as efficiently as possible.

So, different models are made for short, medium, and long-haul flights.

And, of course, planes range from small models with 50 seats (or even less in some cases) to large “heavies” that can carry 500 or more. 

When an airline decides which planes to buy and which routes to fly it on, it always comes down to dollars and cents.

Flying a large-capacity, long-haul plane nearly empty on short legs means not covering the flight’s cost and losing money. So airlines must constantly analyze the planes they have and want based on how they operate them.

More to the point, the speed at which a plane operates is a factor of its efficiency.

Ideally, the quicker one flight is done, then another can begin—with a new batch of paying customers. But getting there fast isn’t the only factor because flying faster uses more fuel.

What Impacts the Speed of a Plane?

Airplane speed is a confusing subject because airplanes operate in the atmosphere, which is itself moving around.

When driving down the road in your car, your speed is a simple matter of miles per hour (or kilometers per hour, outside the US). But pilots and aircraft designers think about a lot more.

Fundamentally, the speed that matters to airline route planners and passengers is the speed the plane flies across the ground from Point A to Point B.

This is known as the ground speed.

This is exactly like driving your car, and the math is easy. If you go 60 mph for three hours, you’ll go 180 miles toward your destination. Ground speed is the airspeed of a plane with tailwinds added or headwinds subtracted.

Inside the cockpit, however, the pilot and plane are worried about how much air moves over the wings.

Commercial airplane flying at altitude

This measurement is called airspeed, and there are a few different types. True airspeed vs indicated airspeed.

True Airspeed (TAS) is the most accurate because it accounts for the air temperature and density, which changes with weather and altitude. Aircraft have airspeed gauges, but they often show Indicated Airspeed (IAS), which is less accurate and needs to be corrected.

How Is a Plane’s Speed Measured?

Aviators use nautical miles for measuring distance, which are different than the statute miles used in the US highway system. 1 NM is approximately 1.15 SM and one nautical mile per hour is called a “knot.” Therefore, aircraft speeds are typically reported in knots, not mph. 

Jets have limitations on their design—they can’t fly too slow, but they also can’t fly too fast. Typical commercial airplanes are not designed to fly faster than the speed of sound, also known as Mach 1.

If they get too fast, the air begins forming shockwaves along the wing that can cause the aircraft to become uncontrollable. The speed they cannot exceed is called the Maximum Mach Number, or the Mmo. 

How fast you’re flying in terms of Mach numbers requires some math, so a machmeter is included in planes where this is an issue. A machmeter means the pilot can see that they are not exceeding the Mmo without thinking about all the math. As a result, when a commercial airplane is flying at altitude, it is flying at a safe designed Mach number. 

You might see the speeds of aircraft counted in either knots or Mach. 

Different Speeds During Flight

It’s important to realize that aircraft don’t always fly at the same speed. For one thing, there’s a speed limit in the sky. All aircraft below 10,000 feet must slow down to 250 knots or less. Near busy airports, they must slow to 200 knots or less. 

But beyond that, all aircraft have flight profiles that are followed on every flight. The pilots set the most efficient climbing, cruising, and descent settings.

Climb Speeds

Getting to a safe altitude as quickly as possible is always a priority because more altitude means more choices should there be an emergency or a loss of power. This means getting off the runway with the best rate of climb, which will give you a lot of altitude quickly but at a slower forward speed. 

However, the pilot will transition to a more efficient climb profile once the plane is at a safe altitude. This means lowering the nose, reducing the engine power, and getting more forward speed at the expense of a slower climb rate. 

Commercial airplane flying at takeoff speed

Cruise Speed

The flight’s cruise phase is also done using a pre-arranged profile. The pilot will set a desired engine power (and fuel burn) for the given flight, and the resulting airspeed or Mach number will determine their ground speed and range. 

When looking at the cruise speed numbers above, you’ll notice that most airliners are remarkably similar in performance. A Maximum Mach number of 0.9–0.95 is about all that is possible in a sub-sonic transport aircraft. This is because air is accelerated as it flows over some parts of the aircraft. So even though the plane’s speed is less than Mach 1, some airflow over parts of the plane is much closer to the speed of sound. Without making the entire aircraft capable of supersonic flight, these planes are limited to somewhere around this speed. 

What’s more, the air is far less dense at altitude than it is near the surface. Jet engines operate very efficiently there, but the aircraft’s wing does not. It must fly very fast to have enough air flowing over it to avoid stalling.

For this reason, many airliners operate in a small window between fast enough to not stall and slow enough not to exceed the Mmo. The result is that many airliners today are flying around at roughly the same speeds. 

At cruise speeds aircraft will sometimes have to change their speeds when flying through turbulence .

Descent Speeds

Commercial planes make two types of descent: a cruise descent and a landing approach. Cruise descent means losing altitude without building up too much forward speed and exceeding their Mmo. There is little change in their forward speed since they just reduce engine thrust and let gravity do the rest.

Descending through 10,000 feet means abiding by the 250-knot speed limit. This requires less power and perhaps drag devices like air spoilers to slow the aircraft down. Since less air flows over the wings as it slows down, the pilot will use flaps to increase the lift the wings can make.

Commercial airplane flying at landing speed

Approaching the airport means slowing down as much as possible while maintaining control of the aircraft. Most planes are shooting approaches at 150 knots or less. This requires using wing flaps and other high-lift devices to maintain control.

Supersonic Air Travel

“I wanna go fast.” -Ricky Bobby

No discussion of commercial airplane speeds would be complete without mentioning the Concorde. The world’s only supersonic airliner flew in regular service from 1976 to 2003 for Air France and British Airways. The plane provides insight into why many modern commercial airplanes look and perform as they do today. 

The Concorde set several records and logged more supersonic hours than any other aircraft before or since.

In 1996 a British Airways “Speedbird” flew from New York to London in 2 hours, 52 minutes thanks to a 175 mph tailwind. In 1992 and 1995, the same Air France Concorde set records circumnavigating the globe (east and westbound, albeit with many fuel stops each way). The quickest was the 1995 eastbound trip which was done in 31 hours, 27 minutes.

Only 20 Concordes were ever built, and while flying on the special plane was a sign of status, supersonic air travel never really took off.

For one thing, the plane was a gas guzzler and very expensive to operate. For another, the sonic booms it produced meant that it could only ever fly at those airspeeds over the open ocean. That made its feasibility for legs like New York to Los Angeles virtually nill.

New technologies may be changing the math, however. Several startups have begun designing new SSTs (supersonic transports, as the Concorde was called).

These new designs, built with modern techniques and computer-aided design, aim to reduce the sonic boom impact and improve fuel economy. Boom Supersonic has been making headlines with its planned Overture airliner and has secured orders from United and American Airlines.

While it hasn’t flown yet, the projected cruise speed of the Overture is Mach 1.75, making a flight from London to New York in about 3 hours, 30 minutes.

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How Fast Do Airplanes Fly? (Commercial vs Private)

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The cruising speed of any aircraft is based on a careful balance of physics and efficiency – and to cover large distances in a relatively short amount of time, they need to be fast.

When passenger and private jets hit cruising altitude, they travel between 500 and 700 mph (804 and 1126 km/h), depending on the type of plane. Single-engine aircraft can reach maximum speeds of about 400 mph (643 km/h), but most average 140 mph (225 km/h). The fastest aircraft in the skies belong to the military, hitting an impressive range of 1,200 to 2,200 mph (1,931 to 3,540 km/h), which is faster than the speed of sound.

The following article explains how fast airplanes fly and what factors affect cruising speed.

How Fast Do Commercial Planes Fly?

Air Canada aircraft flying in the sky.

When measuring the speed of an aircraft, it’s generally reported in terms of ground speed – that is, the 

Every commercial jet has different take-off, landing, and mid-air speeds, depending on their make and model.

The average speed of a passenger plane at take-off is between 160 and 180 mph (257 and 289 km/h). 

How fast these planes must go to get off the ground is contingent on their wingspan and how heavy they are. 

Once commercial aircraft reach cruising altitude, they tend to average 550 to 600 mph (885 to 965 km/h), but the fastest plane in operation right now, the Airbus A380, can hit 683 mph (1099 km/h).

When a plane is landing, it drops its speed to between 130 and 160 mph, based on its weight upon descent. 

  • Ground Speed vs. Air Speed

Ground speed is the rate at which planes fly relative to the Earth’s surface, or, in other words, how fast the plane is flying over the ground. 

However, wind speed can affect ground speed – if the wind pushes the plane forward, it goes faster.

In contrast, airspeed is how fast the aircraft moves without the wind’s help.

To calculate airspeed, subtract windspeed from ground speed.

  • How Fast Are Private Jets?

Private jets can be faster than commercial airplanes if weather conditions are good; however, most travel at the same speed of ​​550 to 600 mph (885 to 965 km/h). 

Additionally, because they are smaller, private jets carry less fuel, so they don’t have the same range as a commercial airliner. 

The fastest private jet in production is the Bombardier Global 8000 , set to be released in 2025. 

The Global 8000 will have a top speed of ​​721 mph (1,160 km/h), slightly faster than the current leader in the field, the Cessna Citation X+ .

The Citation X+ is no longer in production, but many fleets still maintain these aircraft as they can travel at a max speed of 717 mph (1,154 km/h).

  • How Fast Are Single-Engine Planes?

A single engine plane flying in the sky during sunset.

Single-engine planes are the slowest aircraft, averaging about 140 mph (225 km/h).  

These small, personal airplanes are mainly used by hobbyists, as crop dusters, for flight training, or short journeys under 300 miles (482 km).

Crop dusters have a wider range than most single-engine planes and can reach cruising speeds of 191 mph (307 km/h).

More advanced single-engine turboprops, like the Pilatus PC-21 , can reach a max speed of 425 mph (685 km/h).

Generally speaking, however, single-engine planes typically operate at speeds between 140 mph and 200 mph (321 km/h).

  • How Fast Is Military Aircraft?

The average speed for military aircraft is 1,200 to 2,200 mph (1,931 to 3,540 km/h), with the fastest in the world being the Boeing X-37B .

The X-37 isn’t a combat jet but rather an autonomous space plane operated by the US Air Force.

This experimental space drone is testing the limits of reusable space technology and can reach top speeds of 17,423 mph (28,040 km/h) in orbit before returning to Earth.

The fastest fighter jets currently in use are the Russian-made Sukhoi Su-27 and the US Air Force’s F-15. 

The F-15 can hit a maximum speed of 1,650 mph (2,665 km/h), whereas the Sukhoi Su-27 tops out at 1,550 mph (2,500 km/h). 

Air travel has made it possible to see the world in a fraction of the time it used to take less than 100 years ago.

With advancements in aircraft technology, planes have gotten faster, safer, and more efficient.

On average, passenger and private jets travel between 500 and 700 mph (804 and 1126 km/h), depending on the type of plane.  

The fastest commercial airplane is the Airbus A380, typically used for long-range, intercontinental flights, and boasts an impressive speed of 683 mph (1099 km/h).

The Citation X+ can travel at a max speed of 717 mph (1,154 km/h), making it the quickest private jet on the market.

While most single-engine aircraft average 140 mph (225 km/h), a few can reach maximum speeds of about 400 mph (643 km/h). 

However, the fastest jets in operation belong to the Russian and US Air Forces. 

The F-15 and the Sukhoi Su-27 hit maximum speeds of 1,650 mph (2,665 km/h), and 1,550 mph (2,500 km/h), respectively, which is faster than the speed of sound.

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A native of Florida, he loves traveling and visiting unique places all over the world and has an ever-growing collection of travel tips and experiences.

Eric is a digital nomad, a fan of slow travel. He has been traveling for the last 7 years, and has visited over 40 countries.

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How Fast Do Airplanes Take Off?

speed travel airplane

How fast do airplanes take off? Find out here. [Stock Photo: Shutterstock]

Calculating a precise speed at which an aircraft takes off depends on the current weather conditions and each airplane’s specific aerodynamic design characteristics. Key factors that affect airplane takeoff speed (sometimes referred to as its rotation speed) include: direction of airflow, the airplane’s shape (especially its wings), the airplane’s size, and its weight. Infinite combinations of aerodynamic and environmental factors can impact the required speed for any airplane to take off.

This is why every type of airplane has a different takeoff speed. Let’s take a closer look at a few important details that affect how fast airplanes take off. 

Pass the Test. Take to the Skies

speed travel airplane

What Is Lift?

Lift is an upward force created when air flows over and under an airplane’s wings. During takeoff, if the speed and direction of the airflow around the wings generates enough lift to offset the weight of the airplane, it becomes airborne and takes off. This is why achieving the correct speed is so critical during takeoff. The amount of lift generated is a function of airspeed, and without lift, flight is impossible. 

Takeoff Speeds

Takeoff speeds for each airplane vary with the airplane’s size, wing shape and size, the airplane’s weight, and many other factors, including weather conditions. When aircraft manufacturers develop, test, and get regulatory certification for each new type of airplane, an optimum set of specifications is published, including requirements for speed during takeoff. Here are a few examples of takeoff speed specifications for some widely known types of airplanes. 

A typical takeoff or rotation speed of a Boeing 747-400 model—which was the biggest selling of the 747 variants—is around 160 knots. The Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental, the most recent 747 passenger variant, has a typical cruise speed of Mach 0.86 while flying at an altitude of 35,000 feet, according to Boeing.

Beechcraft Super King Air

The Beechcraft Super King Air is a family of popular twin turboprop airplanes—including models 200, 300, and 350—seating up to 11  passengers. In 1996, the manufacturer stopped using the “Super” brand name. A typical minimum rotation or takeoff speed with a full fuel tank and two passengers is around 104 knots. Cruise speed ranges between 228 and 359 knots.

Since the first Cessna 172 rolled off the production line in 1956, more than 45,000 have been manufactured, making it the most popular airplane in the world. According to its pilot operating handbook, the Cessna 172’s normal rotation or takeoff speed is about 55 knots indicated airspeed (kias) and its maximum cruise speed is 124 knots.

McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle

With a top speed above Mach 2—twice the speed of sound—the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is the fastest fighter jet in the U.S. Air Force. The F-15 is propelled by two powerful turbofan engines. It has shoulder-mounted wings and twin vertical stabilizers. The minimum rotation or  takeoff speed for the F-15 ranges between 120 and 150 knots, depending on the aircraft’s configuration. The cruise speed of an F-15 is 495 knots. Pterodactyl Ascender (Ultralight)

The Pterodactyl Ascender is a family of very small, ultralight, single-engine, single-seat aircraft developed in the 1970s. Outfitted with a Dacron sailcloth wing and a forward canard, the Pterodactyl Ascender’s small two-cylinder engine drives a rear-mounted propeller that pushes the airplane forward. Its minimum takeoff speed is about 20 mph and its cruising speed is around 45 mph. 

What Affects Aircraft Takeoff Speed

When trying to determine the ideal speed for a takeoff roll on a runway, there is no magic number that all aircraft must reach to successfully take off. The speed required for an airplane to take off depends on an infinite number of factors, including the current weather during takeoff , the airplane’s weight, the configuration of the airplane, the specific wing design, and the positioning of the flaps and other flight- control surfaces. Let’s take a look at some of the most important factors that affect aircraft rotation or takeoff speed.

Weight is one of the most critical factors on any aircraft. The heavier an aircraft is, the more lift is required for it to get airborne. Airplanes designed to fly heavy payloads often have wings designed for high-lift, along with powerful engines that can achieve rotation or takeoff speeds sufficient to generate enough airflow across the wings. 

Configuration 

Airplanes can be outfitted with various optional equipment, depending on the mission. For passenger aircraft, this might be an additional seating capacity. For military aircraft, it might be weapons or defensive systems, or additional fuel tanks. For longer missions, an airplane might be fully loaded with fuel. Changing configurations can add weight to an airplane and sometimes change its aerodynamics. A pilot will consider these variables when choosing the proper speed for takeoff. 

Wing Design

Airplane wings are designed to include aerodynamic devices that pilots can manipulate to increase lift during critical phases of flight—such as takeoffs and landings . These devices—including flaps, slots, and slats—can mitigate the effects of additional weight, insufficient airflow, crosswinds , and other factors that may reduce lift. Some airplane wings are specifically designed to generate maximum lift. High-lift wings are generally longer and wider because allowing more airflow over a wing can increase lift. High-lift wings tend to reduce the takeoff speed required to get airborne. 

Wind Direction and Density Altitude 

Lift requires proper airflow over and under an airplane’s wings. Optimum airflow is parallel to the direction of the runway so the airplane is pointing into the wind. But sometimes nature has other plans. A slight crosswind might require a slightly higher speed to achieve lift during takeoff. Other weather conditions such as high temperatures could affect the density altitude during your takeoff. Density altitude is defined as pressure altitude corrected for nonstandard temperature variations. Its effects on an airplane are exacerbated during takeoffs and landings at airports located at higher altitudes. For example, a rotation or takeoff speed in Denver, Colorado, on a hot day will have to be higher than on a cold day at a lower altitude airport.

What is STOL (Short Takeoff and Landing)?

STOL (short takeoff and landing) airplanes are designed to take off at very slow speeds on short runways. STOL airplanes are useful for bush pilots who fly in remote areas where improved airports with longer, paved runways are not as common. 

STOL airplanes are also suited for taking off and landing in small urban airports with shorter runways surrounded by tall buildings and other obstacles. 

These airplanes fly at very slow speeds with the help of large wings that are capable of creating large amounts of lift. The wings often include specially designed flaps and slots. 

What Is Assisted Takeoff?

Assisted takeoff is a system that provides an aircraft with speed and momentum during takeoff. Assisted takeoff systems include tow lines attached to powered aircraft—such as those used for glider airplane takeoffs, catapults—–such as those used to assist airplanes taking off from Navy aircraft carriers, and jet- and rocket-assisted takeoff (JATO, RATO) systems. 

Assisted takeoff systems are required for airplanes that cannot produce enough takeoff speed to get airborne due to short runway length or—–in the case of gliders—–because they don’t have independent propulsion systems such as engines or electric motors. 

Takeoff Speeds Aren’t One Size Fits All

Every type of airplane is different and every airplane has different takeoff speeds under various conditions and scenarios. Airplane takeoff speeds for each type depend on multiple changing factors, including weight, wing configuration, weather, and the altitude of the airport. To learn more about airplane takeoff speeds and all things aviation, subscribe to FLYING Magazine .

A piloted airplane’s speed typically depends on its size and mission. Passenger and cargo airplanes tend to fly slower than military jets. Jets tend to fly faster than propeller or turboprop airplanes. Small, single-propeller, four-seater airplanes typically cruise around 125 knots, while the faster military jets can reach speeds in excess of six times the speed of sound. The world’s fastest piloted airplane—the rocket-propelled, experimental North American X-15— flew 4,520 mph in 1967, according to NASA.

A typical takeoff speed for a Boeing 747 is around 160 knots (184 mph), depending on the jet’s wing flap configuration, the number of passengers aboard, and the weight of their luggage, fuel load, current weather conditions, and other factors.

Just as rotation or takeoff speeds depend on many factors, so do typical speeds during landing approach. Ideal landing speeds are determined by an airplane’s weight, wing flap configuration, wind speed, and other variables. Although it varies due to multiple factors, a typical landing speed for a Boeing 747 is around 150 kias, while a typical landing speed for a much smaller and lighter Cessna 172 would be 60 to 70 kias with flaps at 30 percent, according to the pilot operating handbook .

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How Fast Do Airplanes Fly? Climb, Cruise & Descent

speed travel airplane

Flying for any amount of time can soon get boring so the faster it takes the better. Have you ever wondered if pilots fly planes at their maximum speed or are they limited like we are driving a car down the highway? We all know airplanes are fast, the question is though, just how fast?

At takeoff, most passenger jets are traveling around 150-180knots/170-210mph. They will then climb at a maximum speed of 250kts/290mph while under 10,000 feet and then can speed up to 280-300kts/320-345mph for the rest of the climb. Cruise speeds of most passenger jets are around 600kts/700mph.

To find out all about the different speeds an airplane flies at please read on…

Large Commercial Aircraft Speeds:

What is an airplane’s speed at takeoff .

Most commercial airliners use three different speeds for takeoff. These are: V1 , VRotate and V2 . For the Boeing 737-8 or the Airbus A320 family, these speeds are in the region of between 125knots (143mph) to 175knots (200mph).

The V1 or Decision Speed is the speed pilots calculate to know what is the maximum speed they can reject the takeoff. This speed depends on the weight of the aircraft, humidity, outside air temperature, weather, condition of the runway, length of the runway etc.

V1 speed is usually around 140knots +/- 5 knots (Around 160mph)

The Vr or VRotate Speed is the calculated speed at which the pilot flying (One pilot manipulates the controls while the other monitors the instrumentation) pulls back on the yoke or stick to lift the aircraft off the ground. Vr Speed is always equal to or higher than V1, but it can not be lower.

Vr Speed is usually also around 140knots +/- 5 knots (Around 160mph)

speed travel airplane

V2 Speed: 

The V2 Speed is the speed of the aircraft at 50 feet above the ground. This is the speed the aircraft uses to climb to at least 400 feet above the runway and it’s always 5 knots greater than the Vr speed. In case of an engine failure on takeoff the V2 speed will keep the aircraft safe and on a shallow climb while still avoiding obstacles.

V2 speed is usually also around 145knots +5/-0 knots (Around 166mph)

What is an Airplane’s Speed During the Climb? 

The speed of an airplane during its climb varies greatly with the wind and the weight of the aircraft, but all aircraft must abide by maximum airspeed limitations set forth by the world’s aviation governing bodies.

From liftoff up to 10,000 feet above Mean Sea Level (MSL), all pilots must NOT fly their airplane faster than 250knots or 288mph, unless they request to do so with air traffic control. This speed limit is to help air traffic controllers control the flow of aircraft into and out of airports below.

This slower speed also allows for more power to climb faster allowing the airplane to quickly climb through the busy airspace surrounding each airport. Above 10,000 feet the pilots are allowed to speed up so their speed usually increases to 280-300knots, but in doing so their rate of climb will reduce.

Once passing around 24,000 feet MSL pilots will then speed up again to around 350-430knots (400-500mph). This slows the rate of climb again but improves the time taken to complete the flight. This configuration allows for a steady climb up to cruising altitude while flying at a fast enough speed to ensure the passengers get to their destination in a reasonable time.

The faster an airplane flies, the slower it climbs. Engines can only supply a set amount of power so pilots have to select which flight regime they take.

Think of it like towing a trailer with a truck. On the flat road section, you can flatten the accelerator and your truck max’s out at 100mph. You then come to a hill and still with your foot to the floor your truck can now only climb at 80mph while towing. This is the same with the airplane.

Learn More … Try These Articles: * How Much Do Airplanes Weigh? (With 20 Examples) * This Is Why Pilots Reduce Thrust After Takeoff?

What is an Airplanes Cruise Speed? 

The speed of a typical airliner in cruise is usually up to 600kts/700mph/960kph. In the cruise, the pilots use the airplane’s Mach Number for controlling its speed as this number is not affected by atmospheric pressure at cruise altitudes.

What is the Mach Number? 

It’s basically the speed of the aircraft expressed as a percentage of the speed of sound (666 knots/766mph/1233kph). Controlling an aircraft by the Indicated Airspeed(IAS) at high altitudes is not efficient because the IAS is decreasing with increasing altitude and is also dangerous for speed control since the aircraft might find itself in an overspeed or underspeed condition.  

As you can see in this picture, in the left top corner of the right-hand screen, .77 is the selected Mach Number which results in a 244knots IAS.  

The Ground Speed on the other hand, as seen on left-hand screen, top left corner is well over 410knots or 500mph/900kph. 

speed travel airplane

Think of speeds like this:

  • Ground Speed is the speed the airplane’s shadow is moving over the ground
  • Indicated airspeed is the speed of the airflow hitting the nose of the aircraft

The arrow in the top left corner is showing the wind outside. In relation to the aircraft, the wind is blowing from the pilots’ 10 o’clock position at about 27knots. This makes the airplane fly slower because it is a headwind.

If the wind was blowing from behind the aircraft this is known as a tailwind and will give the airplane a push resulting in a faster speed over the ground for the same indicated airspeed.

Usual cruise speeds are in the region between 400kts/450mph to 560kts/650mph and it is greatly affected by the wind.

The stronger the tailwind, the faster the airplane moves over the ground, the stronger the headwind the slower the airplane moves over the ground for the same indicated airspeed.

speed travel airplane

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What is an Airplane’s Speed During Descent? 

The speed on the descent is somewhat like the climb speed. Initially, the aircraft descends from its cruising altitude by the pilots changing its Mach number. The slower the speed, the less lift the wings produce and gravity does the rest.

Once the airplane passes through 29,000 feet the pilots start using the Indicated Airspeed again.

Ground Speeds during the descent usually vary between 345kts/400mph to 435kts/500mph depending on if the airplane has a headwind or a tailwind.

Passing through 10,000 feet MSL, the same Air Traffic Control restrictions apply as the climb, so the pilots have to slow down to a maximum of 250knots (300mph). Ground speeds again vary between 300mph to 400mph depending on the wind.

What is an Airplane’s Speed at Landing? 

speed travel airplane

The landing speed of a commercial airliner is greatly affected by the actual weight of the aircraft. The higher the weight, the higher the speed needed. More lift is required for the heavier load. To get more lift the airplane needs to be flying faster.

The typical speed region at landing for a large airliner is usually 120kts/140mph to 155kts/180mph.

What is an Airplane’s Speed During Taxiing? 

Since we are talking about speeds in flight it would be appropriate to at least mention the speed of aircraft on the ground. Aircraft inside the apron usually taxi with 10 mph maximum. Outside of the apron, this speed is increased to a maximum 30 mph.

The apron is the area immediately surrounding the terminal gates and where ground personnel are scurrying back and forth servicing the waiting aircraft. Once the airplane gets out onto the less busy taxiways the pilots can then speed up.

Light Aircraft Speeds:

Although the skies are dominated by the ‘Heavy Iron’, there is a tonne of light aircraft flying around and they too have certain speeds the pilots have to maintain to ensure a safe flight.

Light aircraft like the Cessna 172 or the Diamond DA40 only use one speed – The Indicated airspeed. They do not have the need for V1, Vr, or V2 like large commercial aircraft do, simply because they only have one engine, plus they are not going that fast.

What is a Light Airplane’s Speed at Takeoff? 

The takeoff speed for light aircraft can be as low as 45mph. One of the biggest things affecting the takeoff speed of a light aircraft is the size of the wings (wing span) and the engine power. Both can significantly decrease the takeoff speed.

Large wings produce lots of lift meaning the aircraft needs less airflow over them to get airborne. Powerful engines mean they can accelerate the plane to lift off speed in a much shorter distance.

speed travel airplane

Typically most small aircraft lift off around 60mph. This gives a good buffer between the power it can produce and its stall speed.

The stall speed is the airspeed at which there is not enough air flowing over the wings to lift the aircraft into the air. An aircraft stalling close to the ground usually ends in a wreckage of the aircraft.

What is a Light Airplane’s Speed During Cruise? 

Cruise speeds for most light aircraft vary between 70mph to 120mph. The Cessna 172 has a cruising speed of 110knots (125mph). If you have ever flown in one you would know that it is not at all about the speed in a light aircraft but the convenience and freedom it provides.

The larger the airplane, the more power its engine can produce which also allows for a faster cruise speed. Some light aircraft are designed specifically for a fast cruise to get its occupants from point A to point in the shortest amount of time, whereas some aircraft are designed to be easy to fly and land.

What is a Light Airplane’s Speed at Landing? 

The landing speed for a light aircraft is usually the same as takeoff speed. Between as low as 45mph to 80mph. Usually, a small increment is added on the approach to land speeds to have a margin from the stall speed and also have some extra speed in case of a go-around.

Some small airplanes are designed to be able to touch down with almost zero forward speed if they have a good headwind. There is a competition in Alaska to see who can land in the shortest distance and you will be amazed just how short some of these aircraft can do it!

Learn More … Try These Articles: * How Long to Refuel an Airplane? – 15 Most Common Planes * How Do Pilots Know Where to Taxi Around an Airport?

speed travel airplane

I am an aviation nut! I'm an ATP-rated helicopter pilot & former flight instructor with over 3500 hours spanning 3 countries and many different flying jobs. I love aviation and everything about it. I use these articles to pass on cool facts and information to you whether you are a pilot or just love aviation too! If you want to know more about me, just click on my picture!

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2 passenger planes surpassed 800 mph on recent flights with strong winds. That's over 200 mph as fast as a typical plane ride.

  • On Saturday, a Virgin Atlantic plane and a United Airlines plane reached speeds of more than 800 mph.
  • These are some of the highest-known recorded speeds for passenger flights. 
  • Near record-breaking winds are to blame.

Insider Today

On Saturday, two flights arrived at their destinations early.

A Virgin Atlantic flight from Washington, DC, to London landed 45 minutes ahead of schedule . Meanwhile, a United Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey, arrived in Lisbon 20 minutes early .

The passengers have strong winds to thank for that.

High-altitude winds over the mid-Atlantic helped the planes surpass speeds of 800 mph, The Washington Post reported.

According to Simple Flying , passenger planes typically have a cruising speed of about 600 mph.

The planes flew faster than the speed of sound

The National Weather Service in the DC area reported that the winds reached speeds of 265 mph.

This evening's weather balloon launch detected the 2nd strongest upper-level wind recorded in local history going back to the mid 20th century! Around 34,000-35,000 ft, winds peaked around 230 kt (265 mph!). For those flying eastbound in this jet, there will be quite a tail wind. pic.twitter.com/0MXK0HvsCV — NWS Baltimore-Washington (@NWS_BaltWash) February 18, 2024

NPR reported that the highest recorded wind speed in the area was 267 mph in 2002. This would make Saturday's winds the second highest in the region.

Contrasting temperatures often cause strong winds, which seems to be what happened on Saturday. The Washington Post reported that cold air from the Northeast and warm air from the Southeast led to the winds.

These winds pushed Virgin's Boeing 787 to a ground speed of 802 mph and United's Boeing 787 to 838 mph .

The speed of sound is 767 mph. While they were flying faster than the speed of sound, the planes didn't break the sound barrier, The Washington Post reported.

That's because the planes were still flying at their typical cruising speeds — they were just flying in unusually fast air.

While there isn't an official record of top ground speeds, The Washington Post reported that the two Saturday flights were among the highest known recorded speeds.

Some of the other top recorded speeds include a China Airlines flight that reached 826 mph over the Pacific Ocean last month and a British Airways flight that reached 825 mph in 2020.

speed travel airplane

Watch: How massive airplanes take off and stay in midair

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  • Main content

International flights recently clocked speeds over 800 mph, propelled by record winds

speed travel airplane

Some passengers aboard international flights arrived at their destinations earlier than expected over the weekend, but it took their planes traveling at 800 mph to do so.

Commercial flights typically travel between 480 to 575 mph speeds, according to Flex Air Flight School . Eddie Sheerr, a meteorologist with NTV News in Canada, said in a post on X that the planes reached higher speeds because they got a "good push from near 200 mph jet stream."

Jet streams are "relatively narrow bands of strong wind in the upper levels of the atmosphere," according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. Winds blow from west to east within jet streams, the agency said.

The planes endured peak winds of around 265 mph, the second "strongest upper-level wind recorded in local history going back to the mid-20th century," the National Weather Service's Baltimore-Washington office said Feb. 17 in a post on X.

"For those flying eastbound in this jet, there will be quite a tailwind," the NWS office said in the X post.

Learn more: Best travel insurance

What flights traveled over 800 mph?

The affected flights included Virgin Atlantic Flight 22, which departed from Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) at 10:45 p.m. Saturday and landed in London 45 minutes early due to the aircraft at a point reaching a top speed of 802 mph, according to flight tracking website FlightAware .

United Airlines Flight 64 from Newark to Lisbon reached 838 mph and landed 20 minutes early with the assistance of the jet stream, according to FlightAware .

No plane flew quicker Saturday than American Airlines Flight 120 from Philadelphia to Doha, Qatar, which reached a top speed of 840 mph. The flight landed 27 minutes earlier than anticipated, FlightAware data shows.

British Airways Flight 292 departed its gate Sunday night and arrived 32 minutes early after reaching a top speed of 806 mph less than an hour into the flight, according to FlightAware.

British Airways Flight 216 reached a top speed of 809 mph Sunday and landed at London Heathrow 20 minutes early after departing its gate at 6:38 p.m., FlightAware data shows.

Did these flights break the sound barrier?

It's true that the planes were traveling at more than 800 miles per hour over the ground, but that does not mean they broke the sound barrier. A plane's speed is measured in two ways: ground speed, which represents how quickly the aircraft is moving between points on terra firma, and airspeed, which represents how quickly they are moving relative to the air around them. So, although these flights were traveling faster than the speed of sound on paper, the plane never broke the sound barrier. Speed of sound is referenced by airspeed, not ground speed – which is the measure being used for these flights.

Contributing: Zach Wichter, USA TODAY

How Fast Do Planes Take Off? A Guide to Takeoff Speeds

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Planes can take off between 58-180mph or 93-290 km/h, depending on the type of plane,  its weight, and its model.

Small planes have the lowest takeoff speeds, while fighter jets have the highest.

Taking off too slowly and too quickly are both dangerous for planes.

Some planes can also even take off vertically, but they’re rare. 

Table of Contents

  • 1.1 Small Planes
  • 1.2 Private Jets
  • 1.3 Commercial Airliners
  • 1.4 Military Planes
  • 2 A Plane Shouldn’t Take Off Too Quickly
  • 3 Nor Too Slowly
  • 4.1 Takeoff Procedure
  • 5 Some Planes Can Take Off Vertically
  • 6 Speed Planes Cruise At
  • 7 Speed Planes Land At

How Fast a Plane Goes to Take Off

A plane’s takeoff speed ranges from 58-180mph or 93.3-290 km/h.

The specific takeoff speed of a plane depends on its type, model, and weight.

Generally, small planes have the lowest takeoff speeds, followed by private jets and commercial planes.

Fighter jets have the highest takeoff speeds. 

Small Planes

Most small planes takeoff between 58-115mph or 93-185 km/h, depending on the plane’s weight and outside conditions.

For example, the very popular Cessna 172 takes off at around 69mph or 111 km/h on average. 

Private Jets

Private jets take off between 148-177 mph or 238-289km/h.

For example, the Gulfstream G500 takes off at around 148mph or 238km/h on average. 

Related: Are Private Jets Faster Than Commercial Planes?

Commercial Airliners

Commercial airliners generally take off between 160-180 mph or 258-290km/h.

For example, the popular Boeing 737 takes off at 150 mph or 241km/h, while the Boeing 747 takes off at 180mph or 290km/h.

The Airbus A320 takes off at 170mph or 274km/h.

Military Planes

A fighter jet takes off at an average speed of 1,200 mph or 1,931 km/h.

The F-16, for example, takes off at 1,319 mph or 2.123 km/h. 

A Plane Shouldn’t Take Off Too Quickly

If a plane takes off too quickly, it will potentially not use enough runway than is necessary to takeoff, and the pilot might lose control of the plane if it has tricycle landing gear.

The use of tricycle landing gear means the aircraft will have more weight and pressure on its front landing gear, potentially causing it to wheelbarrow out of control.

Nor Too Slowly

If a plane takes off too slowly, it will use too much runway and probably not get airborne.

The plane could also potentially crash into a building or obstacle if it doesn’t generate enough lift to take off. 

How Planes Take Off

A plane’s engines move the aircraft forward at high speeds.

The high-speed forward movement causes airflow over the wings, throwing the air down towards the ground, which generates a force called lift.

It is this lift that lets a plane climb and take off.

Takeoff Procedure

  • Checks are performed on the aircraft to ensure onboard systems are operational, and any repairs are performed. 
  • The plane is refueled for the next flight. 
  • The flight crew performs boarding checks, a safety briefing is performed for passengers, and the pilots receive clearance for takeoff. 
  • The pilot taxis the plane up to the start of the runway.
  • The pilot accelerates the plane from stationary to sufficient airspeed to lift the plane. 

Some Planes Can Take Off Vertically

Very few planes can take off vertically, though there is a separate vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft category.

An example is a V-22 Osprey which uses rotating propellers like those of a helicopter to lift itself off the ground.

Non-VTOL aircraft typically can’t take off vertically, including all small, commercial, and private jets.

A fighter jet can vertically take off if it gains enough speed on a flat runway.

Most planes can’t vertically take off because their wings’ diameter is too large to provide the forward thrust needed when the plane is stationary to climb vertically. 

Speed Planes Cruise At

The exact cruise speed of a plane depends on its type, model, and weight, among other factors.

  • Commercial planes usually cruise between 547-575mph or 880-926km/h. For instance, the Boeing 747 cruises at 500mph or 805 km/h.
  • Small planes fly much slower, at between 140-358mph or 225-576km/h. 
  • Private jets can travel as slow as 400 mph or 644km/h and as high as 600mph or 966 km/h.
  • Fighter jets fly the fastest at speeds between 1,500 mph (2,414km/h) to 1,900mph (3,058km/h). The fastest fighter plane, the Soviet MiG-25, can theoretically fly up to 2,400mph or 3,662 km/h. 

Most planes cruise below their maximum speed to conserve fuel. 

Related: How Fast Do Planes Fly?

Speed Planes Land At

Most commercial planes have a landing speed of between 150-165 mph or 240-265 km/h.

Small planes have an average landing speed of 115 mph or 185km/h.

Fighter jets land at an average speed of 200 mph or 322 km/h. 

In conclusion:

  • A plane’s takeoff speed depends on its type, model, and weight.
  • Generally, fighter jets take off at the highest speeds, followed by private jets, while commercial and small planes take off at the lowest speeds.
  • It’s dangerous for planes to take off too slowly or too quickly.
  • Planes take off through a combination of their engines pushing them forward and their wings generating lift to take them off the ground. 

Helen Krasner

Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.

Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.

Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.

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Near-record winds over the Northeast push passenger planes to speeds over 800 mph

Emma Bowman, photographed for NPR, 27 July 2019, in Washington DC.

Emma Bowman

speed travel airplane

Boosted by a powerful jet stream over the Washington, D.C., area on Saturday night, a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 passenger flight arrived at London's Heathrow Airport 45 minutes ahead of schedule. A similar aircraft is seen in 2017, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Ted S. Warren/AP hide caption

Boosted by a powerful jet stream over the Washington, D.C., area on Saturday night, a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 passenger flight arrived at London's Heathrow Airport 45 minutes ahead of schedule. A similar aircraft is seen in 2017, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Strong high-altitude winds over the Mid-Atlantic sped up sky traffic on Saturday night, getting passengers on at least two commercial planes to their destinations early, after both aircraft hit supersonic speeds topping 800 mph.

Winds at cruising altitude peaked at about 265 mph, according to the Washington, D.C., area National Weather Service office — the second-highest wind speed logged in the region since recordings began in 1948. The highest-ever wind speed recorded in the area at a similar altitude was 267 mph on Dec. 6, 2002.

"For those flying eastbound in this jet, there will be quite a tail wind," the NWS warned in a tweet .

20 years ago, the supersonic passenger jet Concorde flew for the last time

Moments in history

20 years ago, the supersonic passenger jet concorde flew for the last time.

Sure enough, that tailwind helped cut down the flight time for passengers on a Virgin Atlantic flight from D.C. to London by 45 minutes, according to the tracker FlightAware .

The Boeing 787 reached a maximum ground speed of 802 mph, surpassing the speed of sound (767 mph). But, as The Washington Post explained, the plane didn't actually break the sound barrier.

"Although its ground speed — a measure that combines the plane's actual speed and the additional push from the wind — was greater than the speed of sound, it was still moving through the surrounding air at its ordinary cruise speed. It just so happened that the surrounding air was moving unusually fast," the Post reported .

Another 787, a United Airlines flight from Newark, N.J., to Lisbon, Portugal, that took off at 8:35 p.m. on Saturday, reached a peak ground speed of 838 mph , shaving 20 minutes off the scheduled flight time.

Just last month, a jet stream over the Pacific Ocean produced 250 mph winds that pushed a China Airlines flight to log 826 mph .

United Airlines Wants to Revive Supersonic Travel. But What About Climate Change?

United Airlines Wants to Revive Supersonic Travel. But What About Climate Change?

There are no official records for commercial flight speeds, the newspaper reported, but both of the latter ground speeds are among the highest known recorded. In February 2020, a British Airways Boeing 747 set a record for subsonic trans-Atlantic flight time with a reported top speed reaching 825 mph .

The powerful jet streams that drive up flight speeds are often fueled by contrasts in temperature. The Post said the combination of Saturday's cold air in the Northeast and warmer air in the Southeast whipped up high winds.

Watch CBS News

Some international flights are exceeding 800 mph due to high winds. One flight arrived almost an hour early.

By Megan Cerullo

Edited By Aimee Picchi

Updated on: February 22, 2024 / 10:37 AM EST / CBS News

Near record wind speeds resulted in multiple international flights over the weekend exceeding 800 miles per hour — far faster than the 500 mph to 600 mph speeds at which commercial flights usually travel.

Powerful, 265 mile-per-hour winds propelled three planes on international routes, allowing them to reach speeds greater than 800 miles per hour and arrive at their destinations early.

The wind speed was the second-highest ever recorded, according to the National Weather Service.  

"For those flying eastbound in this jet, there will be quite a tail wind," the National Weather Service's Baltimore-Washington office wrote on X  on Saturday, referring to the jet stream. 

The impact of a changing climate is causing stronger winds within the jet stream, a narrow band of wind that flows west to east, experts say. While that can help give a tailwind to aircraft flying east, there are also downsides, such as more turbulence — and stronger headwinds for flights heading west.

"Depending on what direction you're going, having a great tail wind is nice," Shem Malmquist, a professor of aeronautics at Florida Tech University and a Boeing 777 captain, told CBS MoneyWatch. He noted that he recently flew on an international flight that hit 822 miles per hour, also thanks to the jet stream.

But, he added, there can be downsides to a faster jet stream, including bumpier flights and slower travel times for aircraft traveling west. "On the other hand, the jet stream is a narrow band of air and it's going to create a lot of turbulence because the air surrounding it isn't moving as fast," he said.

Jet streams are typically strongest in winter, when the difference in air temperature at the polar and tropic regions is most pronounced, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

global-jetstreams-0.png

The fast-moving flights included Virgin Atlantic Flight 22, which departed from Washington Dulles International Airport at 10:45 p.m. Saturday and landed in London 45 minutes early, according to flight tracking website FlightAware .  

At 11:20 p.m. at a cruising altitude of 33,350 feet, the aircraft reached a top speed of 802 miles per hour, according to the site. 

United Airlines Flight 64 from Newark to Lisbon was also aided by the jet stream, a narrow band of strong wind that flows at an aircraft's cruising altitude. The plane flew as fast as 838 miles per hour and landed in Lisbon 20 minutes early, also according to FlightAware .

The fastest moving flight of the day was American Airlines Flight 120 from Philadelphia to Doha, Qatar, which reached a max speed of 840 miles per hour. It arrived 27 minutes early, FlightAware data shows.

By comparison, the British Airways Concorde flew at a cruising speed of 1350 miles per hour, more than twice the speed of sound, making it from New York to London in under three hours in February 1996. Concorde was taken out of service in 2003.

Did they break the sound barrier?

While the planes did move faster than the speed of sound, which travels at about 767 miles per hour, the flights did not break the sound barrier. That's because the planes' own speeds, minus the assistance of the wind, weren't faster than the speed of sound.

Strong winds can aid pilots, in the case of the three flights that arrived early, but they can also complicate flight planning and cause disruptions, Malmquist said. Aircraft that are flying west, against the jet stream, can also encounter significant headwinds, adding to a flight's planned travel time and requiring more fuel.

"It adds fuel and time and can lead to more turbulent flights," Malmquist said.

More turbulence to come

The effects of climate change are expected to cause more turbulence in air travel in the years to come. That could mean more widespread delays and cancellations across airlines, in what is already an unpredictable industry. 

University of Chicago and the U.S. National Science Foundation National Center for Atmospheric Research (NSF NCAR) found that climate change will cause jet stream winds will get significantly faster by mid century, in some cases cutting down on flight times.

Specifically, research shows that the fastest jet stream winds will get faster by about 2% for every degree Celsius temperatures rise. 

More frequent severe weather events will likely cause disruptions. 

"There are a lot of ways climate change can affect air travel. Thunderstorms are an obvious one," Wired magazine reporter, Amanda Hoover, told CBS News. "When there is more heat in the air, there is more moisture, more thunderstorms."

Scientists have also linked the increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires to global warming. These kinds of events require airlines to leave more room between departures and also map out alternative routes. 

Weather events such as extremely high temperatures can also slow down air travel. 

"Really high heat can cause delays because a plane in high temperatures needs more time and more distance to take off to fight gravity," Hoover said. 

img-6153.jpg

Megan Cerullo is a New York-based reporter for CBS MoneyWatch covering small business, workplace, health care, consumer spending and personal finance topics. She regularly appears on CBS News Streaming to discuss her reporting.

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  4. The Future of High Speed Travel

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COMMENTS

  1. How Fast Do Commercial Planes Fly?

    Airplanes can travel faster when flying in the same direction as the wind. Conversely, an airplane will fly slower (and use more fuel) when flying into headwinds. Total Thrust Of course, an...

  2. How fast do planes fly? Exploring airplane speeds

    The landing speed of a commercial airliner can be around 160-180 mph, while the takeoff speed can be around 130-160 mph. The fastest passenger planes The Airbus A350-1000 first entered service in 2018 and has a top speed of Mach 0.89, which means it can travel at approximately 683 mph at sea level.

  3. How fast does an airplane really go?

    How fast is an airplane in the air? Airspeed is measured in knots. One knot equals 1 nautical mile per hour. One nautical mile is 1.15078 statute miles (what we commonly know as a mile). So, 1 knot is equal to 1.15078 miles per hour.

  4. How Fast Do Airplanes Go? (during Takeoff, Flight, Landing)

    A: Most commercial planes take off at roughly 160 to 180 MPH. Q: How fast do airplanes go when landing? A: Commercial airplanes land at approximately 150 to 165 MPH. How Fast Do Commercial Airplanes Go Big commercial airplanes generally fly in the 550-580 MPH range, but their landing and taking-off speeds are naturally going to be different.

  5. Plane Speed: How Fast Do You Need To Fly?

    In fact, without a fast plane, a 500-nm trip out and back again with three hours on the ground at the destination isn't doable in daylight in most of the Lower-48 United States during the daylight available most of the year.

  6. How Fast do Planes Fly: Commercial, Private & Military

    On average, commercial planes cruise at about 575-600 mph (925-965 km/h, 500 to 521 knots, 0.78 to 0.81 Mach). Private jets typically cruise at around 500-600 mph (805-965 km/h, 435 to 521 knots, 0.68 to 0.81 Mach). Military aircraft can exceed 1,500 mph (2,400 km/h, 1,297 knots, 2.08 Mach).

  7. Fastest Airplanes Commercial Passengers Can Fly

    For current commercial airline passengers, the fastest way to get around is the Boeing 747-8i, with a top speed of nearly 660 mph. But with limited options, you may find yourself going just a...

  8. How Fast Do Planes Fly? (Speeds and Facts)

    Commercial aircraft fly at approximately 900 km per hour or 550 miles per hour. This is their cruising speed, which describes the speed of the plane once it reaches its maximum altitude. Table of Contents Speed by airplane type The four different types of airspeed How fast do planes take off? How fast does a 747 fly? Do planes fly at maximum speed?

  9. How Fast Do Passenger Planes Fly?

    On average, passenger planes have a cruising speed of 500 to 521 knots (575-600 mph), about Mach 0.78 to 0.81. Private jets travel at 435 to 521 knots (500-600 mph), about Mach 0.68 to 0.81. Types of speed measurements

  10. How Fast Do Airplanes Fly? (With Real Examples)

    Airplanes boast a wide speed range, typically flying from 100 mph to as fast as 1,500 mph, depending on the type and purpose of the aircraft. Small private planes cruise at speeds between 100 and 200 mph, making them perfect for shorter, more personal trips.

  11. How Fast Do Airplanes Go?

    Airplanes travel at speeds ranging anywhere from just over 100 mph up to nearly 2,200 mph. Personal aircraft typically travel between 120 - 200 mph; commercial airplanes fly between 500 - 700 mph, and military aircraft can travel at speeds around 1,200 - 2,200 mph.

  12. How Fast Planes Fly (Takeoff, Cruising & Landing)

    If you're wondering how fast planes fly, the answer is that it ranges from 160 mph (260 km/h) to 2,400 mph (3,900 km/h) depending on the type of plane (commercial airliner, single-engine, private jet, military planes) and whether the plane is taking off, at cruising altitude or landing.

  13. What's the Difference Between Airspeed and Ground Speed?

    Airspeed and ground speed are completely different when it comes to determining how fast an airplane flies. Greg Bajor/Getty Images. Back in February 2019, a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 jet flying over Pennsylvania in route from Los Angeles to London reached what might seem like an amazing speed of 801 miles per hour (1,289 kilometers per hour), according to CBS News.. But the speed record wasn ...

  14. The World's Fastest Passenger Aircraft: Past, Present, And Future

    The fastest passenger aircraft in service today is the Boeing 747-8i, also known as the 747-8 Intercontinental. This model of the Queen of the Skies has a top speed of Mach 0.86. Unfortunately, it is not that easy to catch a ride on one as she is only in service with three airlines - Lufthansa, Korean Air, and Air China.

  15. What does it actually mean for a commercial plane to hit 801 mph?

    On Monday, a Boeing 787 operated by Virgin Atlantic hit an astounding ground speed: 801 miles per hour, the Washington Post reported. That's extraordinarily fast, and in fact, the plane ...

  16. Jet Speeds Uncovered: How Fast Do Commerical Airplanes Fly?

    July 1, 2023 in Flight Training In this article we'll discuss how fast commercial airplanes fly. There are a lot of factors that go into how fast commercial aircraft fly. In this article we'll go over all of these factors but before we do, here's the flight speeds of many common commercial aircraft. Cruising Speeds for Common Commercial Airplanes

  17. How Fast Do Airplanes Fly? (Commercial vs Private)

    On average, passenger and private jets travel between 500 and 700 mph (804 and 1126 km/h), depending on the type of plane. The fastest commercial airplane is the Airbus A380, typically used for long-range, intercontinental flights, and boasts an impressive speed of 683 mph (1099 km/h). The Citation X+ can travel at a max speed of 717 mph (1,154 ...

  18. Top 9 Fastest Passenger Planes Ever

    The A380 is powered by four Trent 970-84 turbofan engines, producing 78,000 pound-force of thrust each. These engines are able to propel the biggest passenger airplane in the world to a comfortable cruise speed of 561 mph, and a top speed of 736 mph. 4. Boeing 777 (745 mph)

  19. How Fast Do Airplanes Take Off?

    The minimum rotation or takeoff speed for the F-15 ranges between 120 and 150 knots, depending on the aircraft's configuration. The cruise speed of an F-15 is 495 knots. Pterodactyl Ascender ...

  20. Transatlantic airplanes are flying at the 'speed of sound ...

    In the past 24 hours, passenger aircraft traveling east from the US across the Atlantic have reached up to 778 mph. That's a little over 200 miles per hour faster than normal cruising speeds.

  21. How Fast Do Airplanes Fly? Climb, Cruise & Descent

    They will then climb at a maximum speed of 250kts/290mph while under 10,000 feet and then can speed up to 280-300kts/320-345mph for the rest of the climb. Cruise speeds of most passenger jets are around 600kts/700mph. To find out all about the different speeds an airplane flies at please read on….

  22. The planes flew faster than the speed of sound

    Travel. 2 passenger planes surpassed 800 mph on recent flights with strong winds. That's over 200 mph as fast as a typical plane ride. Monica Humphries. Feb 19, 2024, 7:50 AM PST. A United ...

  23. International Flights reached 800 mph due to record winds

    Commercial flights typically travel between 480 to 575 mph speeds, according to Flex Air Flight School. Eddie Sheerr, a meteorologist with NTV News in Canada, said in a post on X that the planes ...

  24. How Fast Do Planes Take Off? A Guide to Takeoff Speeds

    Speed Planes Land At. Most commercial planes have a landing speed of between 150-165 mph or 240-265 km/h. Small planes have an average landing speed of 115 mph or 185km/h. Fighter jets land at an average speed of 200 mph or 322 km/h. In conclusion: A plane's takeoff speed depends on its type, model, and weight.

  25. Near-record winds in Northeast give passenger flights a boost : NPR

    The Boeing 787 reached a maximum ground speed of 802 mph, surpassing the speed of sound (767 mph). But, as The Washington Post explained, the plane didn't actually break the sound barrier.

  26. Some international flights are exceeding 800 mph due to high winds. One

    At 11:20 p.m. at a cruising altitude of 33,350 feet, the aircraft reached a top speed of 802 miles per hour, according to the site. United Airlines Flight 64 from Newark to Lisbon was also aided ...

  27. The Airbus A340 airplane was built to rule long-haul travel. Now it's

    Just after entering commercial service, in 1993, an A340 set records by flying from the Paris Air Show to Auckland, in New Zealand, and then back after a five-hour layover, totaling over 42 hours ...

  28. Speed Records Shattered by Gulfstream's Fastest Aircraft in Over 50

    This particular plane was introduced into service in 2019 and is currently equipped with twin Rolls-Royce engines, enabling it to achieve top speeds of Mach 0.935 (717 mph/1,155 kph).

  29. United's Fleet

    Statistics. Statistics. Cruise speed: 540 mph; Capacity: 167-240 passengers; Propulsion: Two General Electric CF6-80C2B or Two Pratt & Whitney PW4060 engines, rated up to 63,300 pounds thrust each; Wingspan: 170 feet, 4 inches; Seatmaps: Boeing 767-300ER, Boeing 767-400ER

  30. Jet stream pushes planes to speeds near 840 mph, shortening ...

    According to the Post, data from FlightAware showed a Virgin Atlantic flight from D.C. to London landed 45 minutes early after high winds bolstered the plane to a peak speed of 802 mph, once it ...