A powerful jet stream helped the aircraft to reach a speed of 1,289 kph and finish its Los Angeles–London trip 48 minutes ahead of schedule
Thanks to a strong jet stream that was passing over Pennsylvania on Monday, the carrier’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner managed to overcome the speed of sound and reached 1,289 kilometres per hour.
While the Boeing twin-jet usually cruises at around 901 kph, the strong winds at the altitude of 10.5 kilometres helped the aircraft to arrive in London 48 minutes ahead of schedule.
The record-breaking flight caused a storm of opinion on Twitter.
Peter James, a jet captain, expressed his astonishment that the wind was so strong.
Almost 800 mph now never ever seen this kind of tailwind in my life as a commercial pilot !! (200 mph tailwind ) pic.twitter.com/0XGTkEP9EB
— Peter James (@jetpeter1) February 19, 2019
Other Twitter users discussed if travelling above the speed of sound is safe.
Does this become dangerous at some point? What would be the top speed for one of those planes to travel safely? Just curious ?
— ?ʝɛռռȶɛǟʟ? (@TealNoodles) February 19, 2019
Strong winds often help to save travel time
Transatlantic flights often profit from the powerful jet streams that encircle the globe several kilometres above the earth. They help them save time when travelling between Europe and the United States.
Sometimes, pilots even request particular routes to enable them to make the most use of the winds.
However, passengers usually cannot notice the difference, as the figure reflects ground speed — the rate at which a plane is travelling relative to a point on the ground.
Because the airspeed reflects the difference between the ground speed and the wind speed, people on board have the feeling the aircraft is moving as fast as it usually does.
That is why the passengers who got off the plane 48 minutes earlier in London probably didn’t realise their flight was special until they disembarked.