Why Transatlantic Flights Keep Getting Faster
Norwegian Air broke a subsonic speed record last month when a flight from New York City to London arrived in just five hours and 13 minutes — but the airline broke that record just las week, with a flight that arrived in just five hours and nine minutes.
After catching a particularly powerful jet stream, the aircraft was flying as fast as 799 miles per hour. Like the previous record-breaker, the flight was operated on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, traveling about 23 miles per hour faster than January’s flight.
As if these record-breaking speeds weren't enough, the pilot on January’s flight revealed that the airplane could have gone even haster “if it had not been for forecasted turbulence at lower altitude.”
Average travel time for the popular flight across the Atlantic is about five hours and 45 minutes. According to FlightAware, the aircraft left New York City's JFK Airport at 11:57 a.m. and arrived at London Gatwick at 10:04 p.m. local time, about one hour ahead of schedule.
Before this year’s record-breaking flights, the record for fastest transatlantic flight was captured by British Airways in 2015. That flight lasted five hours and 16 minutes.
According to recent research from the University of Arizona, the North American jet stream has become more intense, with “increased fluctuations” since the 1960s. Although the more extreme winds can help transatlantic flights move faster, it is also linked to more extreme weather in Europe, including heat waves, drought, and wildfires, the study said.
Of course, all these record-breaking flights pale in comparison to supersonic flight. When the Concorde was in operation, it was possible to fly from New York City to London in less than three hours. The fastest time ever recorded was in 1996 when a British Airways flight took off from New York City and landed in London in just two hours and 53 minutes.