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British Airways Breaks the Record for Fastest Subsonic Transatlantic Flight

Using Storm Ciara's extra winds in the jet stream, the flight reached top speeds of over 1,327 kph (825 mph).

British Airways Breaks the Record for Fastest Subsonic Transatlantic Flight
British Airways Boeing 747-436 Johnny Powell/iStock

A British Airways (BA) flight from New York to London recently took home the record for the fastest transatlantic flight ever recorded. Reaching a top speed of 1,327 kph (830 mph), the Boeing 747 completed the entire journey in an impressive four hours and 56 minutes

Flying overnight from Saturday into Sunday, the plane landed at Heathrow airport at 4:43 AM, nearly two hours ahead of schedule. 

As Storm Ciara also sped towards the U.K., her winds assisted in propelling the aircraft forward towards its destination. 

A faster than usual jet stream

Storms aren't always very welcome, closing downtowns and cities, creating havoc, and usually disrupting travel. However, Storm Ciara was a blessing in disguise for the passengers of British Airways' Boeing 747 flight over the weekend, as she hastened their journey towards London. 

As CNN senior meteorologist Brandon Miller pointed out "The flight was riding a much stronger than usual jet stream, with winds over 200 mph propelling the aircraft." 

"The jet stream is a fast-moving 'river of air' high in the atmosphere, around the height that commercial airliners fly. The jet stream is responsible for carrying weather systems around the planet," continued Miller.

Flightradar24, an online flight-tracking service, was the first to share the impressive news. In its Twitter post, Flightradar24 also pointed out that two other flights took advantage of the extremely fast-moving jet stream, but did not manage to beat the BA one. 

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Those two other flights also flying from New York to London were both Virgin Atlantic aircraft, landing four hours and 57 minutes after takeoff, and four hours and 59 minutes — extremely similar to the BA flight, just a touch slower. 

A typical transatlantic flight on this route takes around six hours and 13 minutes

All three flights beat the previous subsonic transatlantic flight record holder since January 2018, which was held by Norwegian, at five hours and 13 minutes

Even though the BA flight was faster than the speed of sound1,234 kph (767 mph)  — as it was using a stream of air to push forward it did not breach the sound barrier. It is deemed subsonic as it was traveling more slowly than the speed of sound relative to the air around it.

A BA spokesperson stated that "We always prioritize safety over speed records, but our highly trained pilots made the most of the conditions to get customers back to London well ahead of time."

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