Unless you’re lounging in business class with a 5-course meal and free-flowing alcohol, most travelers are eager to reach their destination as quickly as they can. And with today’s advancements in air travel, it’s entirely possible to fly on one of the world’s fastest passenger planes.
The average cruising speed of a commercial aircraft is around 575 miles per hour, but these record breakers smash that to pieces. And while passenger jets can never reach the supersonic speeds of the Concorde or the Lockheed Blackbird, they’re still able to shuttle travelers faster than ever.
From the legendary Boeing 747 to the newly-designed Dreamliner, we’re looking at the fastest commercial airplanes that have changed the way we travel.
Not only is the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental (747-8i) the fastest aircraft in the world, but it’s also the largest aircraft ever built in the United States. And the 8i model is the latest addition to the 747 series, which has been flying commercial for almost 50 years.
Reaching maximum speeds of Mach .92, or 659 miles per hour, the 747-8i can handle long-distance flights of up to 7,000 miles. That means you can fly across the world from Frankfurt, Germany to Buenos Aires, Argentina in just under 14 hours!
Lufthansa was the first company to fly the 747-8i back in 2012, and since then, 47 more planes have been ordered. Besides Lufthansa, the only other companies operating commercial 747-8i airplanes are Air China and Korean Air. However, these companies also operate flights to and from the United States, India, Mexico, Asia, and South America.
The Boeing 747-400 clocks in as the second fastest airlines and most popular 747 model to fly the skies. It’s just slightly slower than it’s 747-8i predecessor, with the fastest speed topping out at a recorded Mach .85, or 656 miles per hour.
And while Boeing produced almost 700 different 747-400 aircrafts over the last 30 years, only 146 are still in service. British Airways and Lufthansa are the two largest operators of the remaining 747-400 models.
Most impressively, the 747-400 holds the record for the longest commercial flight in the world. In 1989, Qantas flew from non-stop from London to Sydney in just over 20 hours. And while this was only a promotional flight without any paying customers, the 747-400 continues fly routes up to 7,670 nautical miles.
Boeing 787 and Airbus A380
Fighting for the third place spot is both the Boeing 787 and Airbus A380. The A380 is the fastest aircraft from Europe’s Airbus fleet, which has the ability to fly non-stop for up to 8,000 nautical miles with Mach .85 speeds (652 miles per hour).
Boeing’s third fastest plane is the brand new 787 Dreamliner, which was first introduced back in 2011. Not only can the Dreamliner fly up to speeds of 652 miles per hour, but it has exponentially revolutionized air travel as we know it. The aircraft is 30% more fuel efficient than it’s Airbus competitor, features a unique electrical engine start and cabin pressurization system, and has the largest windows of any aircraft on the market today.
Not surprisingly, the final aircraft on our list also belongs to Boeing. The 777 is the world’s largest twin-jet airplane cruising through the air at speeds of Mach .84, or 644 miles per hour. And with over 1,500 models in production (and another 500 on order), the 777 is the most produced Boeing jet.
In fact, a British Airways 777 was recorded in 2015 reaching speeds of 745 miles per hour thanks to strong headwinds over the Atlantic. As a result, it was able to fly from New York to London in just five hours and 16 minutes, an astounding 1.5 hours before schedule.
And with routes operated by United Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Emirates, the “triple seven” can take you to dozens of countries around the world. It even flies seven out of the ten longest routes, with a 17 hour and 30 minute Doha to Auckland flight topping the list.
Gone are the days of sailing across the ocean or trekking through the countryside on horseback. In today’s world, we’re able to fly at top speeds around the globe in just under half a day.
And while these passenger jets continue to impress travelers and aviation enthusiasts with their record-breaking speeds, this is merely the beginning. Passenger jets and aircrafts are continually evolving, and we can’t wait to see what the future of air travel brings!