TIS MEYER / PLANEPICS.ORG
Thanks to strong winds, a commercial flight broke records as it flew from New York JFK to Heathrow Airport in London arriving almost two hours early.
A British Airways flight set a new record as it flew from New York to London this weekend. The cross over the pond took the Boeing 747 less than five hours to reach Heathrow International Airport, beating the previous record in subsonic terms.
The news was first reported in a tweet by Flightradar24, an internet-based service that tracks global flights.
The jet stream which is a narrow band of strong winds located at about 30,000 feet in the atmosphere reached speeds above 200 mph, producing an unusual tailwind.
The supercharged jet stream is also responsible for powering Winter Storm Ciara, which has brought damaging wind gusts and massive waves to the United Kingdom, Ireland and other parts of Northern Europe this weekend, according to CNN.
As most commercial planes fly at the jet stream level, an increased tailwind can shave off the flight time from the United States to Europe significantly, according to weather.com.
“In the winter, the jet stream dips down a bit,” said Ian Petchenik, Flightradar24′s director of communications to the Associated Press. “It’s kind of in a perfect spot for flights across the North Atlantic to take advantage of it.”
British Airways flight 112 departed from New York JFK Airport and arrived in London just four hours and 56 minutes later. The flight was expected to take 102 minutes longer, according to the Associated Press.
The airliner zoomed over the Northern Atlantic at a ground speed of over 800 mph, weather.com reported. The average ground speed of commercial planes at cruising altitude ranges from 590 to 650 mph.
The Associated Press said Monday that flight 112’s impressive speed was enough to set a new subsonic — or slower than the speed of sound — record for commercial aircraft to fly between the two cities.
Norwegian Air previously held the record for the fastest subsonic flight between New York and London, which it set two years ago with a flying time of five hours and 13 minutes.
In Flightradar24’s tweet about the record-breaking news, it also said that flight 112 beat two other flights operated by Virgin Atlantic.
Flight 112 arrived one minute earlier than Virgin Atlantic flight 4 and beat Virgin Atlantic flight 46 that landed half an hour later by three minutes.
Virgin Atlantic replied in a tweet saying that the jets it used, the Airbus A350-1000, have two engines and are more fuel-efficient than the Boeing 747 which has four engines.
“It’s true that we were narrowly beaten by a BA Boeing 747, however they had twice the amount of engines and burnt twice as much fuel as Captain Chris in our brand new, fuel efficient Airbus A350-1000.”
Although flight 112 was traveling faster than the speed of sound which is 767 mph, it did not breach the sonic barrier because it was being pushed by the tail winds and its actual flying speed was much slower than the speed of sound relative to the air around it, according to CNN.
According to weather.com, the Concorde still holds the commercial New York to London record, but it was a supersonic aircraft. Its shortest flight was two hours and 52 minutes on Feb. 7, 1996.
The joint British Airways-Air France airliner that flew at twice the speed of sound officially retired in 2003, weather.com reported.