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Reason behind so many flights being pushed to near-supersonic speeds recently

Faster isn't always the answer.
  • A transatlantic flight from New York to Lisbon reached an astonishing 1340km/h (835 mph)
  • This may affect the future of aviation as a whole
  • It could lead to shorter, but potentially more turbulent, flights

Published on Feb 27, 2024 at 3:00PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on Feb 27, 2024 at 9:12PM (UTC+4)

Edited by Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

Recently, a few commercial flights have been pushed to near-supersonic speed leading to a turbulent journey.

A transatlantic flight from New York to Lisbon reached supersonic speed, an astonishing 1340km/h (835 mph).

The aircraft surpassed the typical cruising velocity by about 420km/h (260 mph).

READ MORE! Rare footage shows what it was like to be inside Concorde as it broke the sound barrier

The reason for this incident is quite complicated as it involves climate change and might even influence the future of aviation.

The transatlantic commercial flight was caught in a powerful jet stream flowing west to east.

It’s not the first time that these jet streams have influenced flight times.

Supersonic flights were not a rare thing in the past, as Concorde was one of the few aircraft that were technically capable of going supersonic.

Although the possibility of shorter flights might seem great, the turbulence that comes with it is not so pleasant as seen from this footage.

There’s also the broader implication of a warming planet and the effect it will have on these jet streams, which will in turn affect the future of aviation.

Unfortunately, these atmospheric changes’ effect on air travel does not end with more speed.

While these jetstreams may benefit eastbound flights, they could also lead to longer and potentially more turbulent westbound journeys. 

The increased turbulence could even raise several safety concerns for the aircraft being used.

However, Airbus is also developing a supersonic plane, capable of traveling up to about 4.5 times the speed of sound.

Although commercial supersonic flights are generally banned in the US due to loud sonic booms.

However, that may not be true for long.

NASA is currently on a quiet supersonic plane that will be able to travel at 1.4 times the speed of sound with no sonic boom.

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