How Fast Do Airplanes Fly? (Commercial vs Private)

We know that air travel is fast and covers thousands of miles in a few hours.

But how fast is the average flight? 

Well, no matter if you’re in business class or first class, passenger jets fly between 550-580 miles per hour on average, while a military plane flies at an airspeed of 1,500 mph. Single-engine planes are the slowest, with an average speed of 140 mph.

Furthermore, some airplanes cannot reach a relatively low rate, while others, like the Boeing X-37B, can travel at supersonic speeds or faster than the speed of sound.

The point is the rate of momentum varies between different planes. 

How Fast Do Commercial Planes Fly?

Airplanes have different take-off, landing, and mid-air speeds, and they all vary between various passenger aircraft models.

Generally speaking, passenger jets fly with an airspeed between 550-580 miles per hour on average. But this is only an average, and speed depends on many other factors. 

For example, a commercial airplane usually takes off at 180 miles per hour and lands at a relatively low airspeed of 165 mph.

Plane’s Ground Speed Varies depending on Wind Resistance

Ground speed is the horizontal speed that 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 a passenger jets’ ground speed. 

Thus, if the wind travels directly towards the plane, the ground speed will be lower. But, if there’s a strong tailwind, it will fly faster. 

So, the length of your flight can depend on wind conditions. 

How Does the Size of the Airplane Affect its Airspeed?

An airplane’s speed at take-off depends on its size. The bigger the aircraft, the faster it should be flying before it takes flight. 

For example, an Airbus A380 needs a 195 mph ground speed on the runway to take off.

Conversely, Antonov AN-225, the largest aircraft ever made, requires only 140 miles per hour ground speed to fly. But it needs a lot more runway length than the Airbus A380.

Therefore, size can determine the needed take-off speed to achieve flight. 

Which is the Fastest Passenger Plane Ever Made?

Airbus A380 is the fastest commercial aircraft still operational at an above-average top airspeed of 740 miles per hour. But it is not the fastest commercial aircraft that ever flew.

Concorde was a small aircraft that held only 100 people but could travel at twice the speed of sound or about 1,300 miles per hour.

That’s quite a big difference compared to most commercial airliners. 

Concorde holds many world records for the fastest flights. But the most notable is the flight taken from New York to London in 1996. 

It only took Concorde 2 hours and 53 minutes for the flight, which usually takes seven hours.

But the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey banned the plane in 1976, leading to wider bans. 

The aircraft was dangerous for the passengers and expensive to manufacture. It even shattered the airport windows once when landing.

The manufacturer discontinued the airplane in 2003.

Are Private Jets Faster than Passenger Jets?

Wealthy people use private jets since they are luxurious and allow ultra-fast travel. 

Private jets are faster than commercial airplanes as long as weather conditions are good. Plus, they are easy to develop due to their small size.

Furthermore, private jets don’t have to land between destinations like commercial airplanes, so you can fly from New York to London in less than three hours.

The fastest private plane that is fully functional is the Cessna Citation X+. It uses two Rolls Royce AE3007 C1 turbofan engines, producing 13,000 pounds of thrust combined. 

The airplane’s thrust is enough to fly supersonically with a top-flight speed of 711 miles per hour. 

Another amazing private jet that is a lot like Concorde is the Aerion AS2. 

Aerion Corporation developed this aircraft to revive the previously banned Concorde. Aerion AS2 could fly at 800 mph, which is a lot slower than the Concorde’s maximum fly speed. 

But the Aerion Corporation intentionally kept the mid-air speeds low to avoid sonic booms.

How Fast is a Military Aircraft?

Although it is surprising for a commercial jet to travel more than a thousand miles an hour, these high speeds are not a big deal for a military aircraft. 

The fastest military planes in the world are the Russian manufactured Sukhoi Su-27 and MiG-31 Foxhound and the American manufactured F-16. These are decades-old airplanes that are still popular among many countries.

F-16 is the fastest among these three, with a maximum speed of 1,800 mph. But, a spaceplane like the Boeing X-37B can travel up to 10,800 mph. 

However, top speed is not the most impressive feature when discussing military jets. Instead, it’s the aircraft’s capability to reach these speeds quickly. 

F-16’s powerful engines provide full thrust whenever the pilot orders. And the aircraft just disappears from the enemy’s land in seconds.

How Fast Does a Front-Single Engine Plane Fly?

For an aviation enthusiast, a single-engine plane is probably the most uninteresting thing in the world. 

These small planes are slow and have a low cruise altitude. But, surprisingly, they do have some benefits over commercial airplanes.

Front-engine planes are not jets because they have rotor blade engines and not jet engines. The front rotor engines do not provide as much thrust as jet engines do, so these planes have an average velocity of 140 mph but rarely reach speeds over 300 mph.

On the positive side, single-engine planes are quicker to get into the sky, making them popular among some pilots. They don’t need pre-running or long runway lengths either, which is a must for jet engine planes. 

You just need to push the ignition and enjoy the flight.

Conclusion

Humankind has achieved traveling at thrice the speed of sound. But we still can’t incorporate this technology in commercial air travel. 

Yet, it is only a matter of time before commercial planes will travel at those speeds, allowing a pilot to cover thousands of miles in half the time it takes today.

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