Fastest Subsonic Flight From New York to London by British Airways

The Boeing 747-400 aircraft of British Airways broke the fastest flight record among subsonic aircraft in the Transatlantic on February 8-9, 2020.

Flightradar24 company announced the news of the record-breaking flight on its Twitter account, writing: “If we’re not mistaken, BA now retakes the fastest subsonic NY-London crossing from Norwegian.”

(The previous record was on Norwegian Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner with registration G-CKHL)

The B747-400 (G-CIVP) which performed the BA112 flight between New York JFK and London Heathrow airports on February 8-9, 2020, completed the 5.554 km long flight in four (4) hours and 56 minutes.

The plane, which departed from New York at 18:47 local time on February 8, arrived in London Heathrow in the next morning at 04:43. The total flight time was recorded as 4 hours 56 minutes. This time is 1 hour 20 minutes shorter than the average flight time on this line.

This flight is also 17 minutes shorter than the old record set by a Norwegian aircraft (Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner) between New York JFK and London Gatwick on January 15, 2018.  While this record was broken, Boeing 747-400’s ground speed increased to 1,327 km/h.

However, the normal cruise speed of Boeing 747 type aircraft is around 933 km/h and its maximum speed is 1.004 km/h.

Then where does the speed difference occurred almost 400 km/h between the speed in the aircraft’s factory data and the speed reached during the flight come from?

Help of Jet Stream

The secret is in very strong air currents called Jet Stream, which blows from west to east and increases its effect especially in winter time. The air speed of the aircraft that enters into such air currents on the flights to the east with its normal cruising speed while the ground speed reaches the points that we mentioned above. So, for example, while the plane travels at a speed of 950 km/h, the ground speed of the plane can reach to a point of 1,150 km/h when the air flows into a flow of 200 km/h and fully blown by the tail. In a case of an opposite wind, a ground speed will decrease by 200 km/h and it can be calculated as 950 – 200 = 750 km/h.

It is observed that the speed of the jet stream air flow over the Transatlantic was up to 418 km/h on the day the record was broken. The speed record broken by the British Airways plane can be understood more easily when we consider this data.

Of course, another point we need to underline is that the speed record in the Transatlantic actually belongs to the legendary aircraft Concorde.

A Concorde in the British Airways fleet completed its New York – London flight on February 7, 1996 in 2 hours 52 minutes and 59 seconds, reaching a maximum speed of 2,173 km/h.

In other words, the record broken by British Airways plane at 8-9 February 2020 only covers the subsonic passenger planes.

Let’s keep an eye on when this subsonic flight record, which belongs to British airways’ 747-400 aircraft, will be broken and under which circumstances.

Fastest Subsonic Flight From New York to London