The Fastest Passenger Planes in the Skies

The Fastest Passenger Planes in the Skies

On December 17th, 1903, history was made- in that year, the Wright brothers flew the first plane amid thunderous applause and much excitement. Interestingly, the first documented flight lasted only 12 seconds- it covered a mere 37 metres, doing an impressive 50 km per hour speed. Much has since happened in the world of planes and flights. As some might remember, sometimes back, certain passenger planes pierced across the sky, cruising at twice the speed of sound.

Years later, during the famous space race, at the height of the Cold War, other exciting things happened; interestingly, the great rivalry between the Eastern and Western powers created another race-each side wanted to outdo the other in designing the fastest passenger plane in the world. This happened during the time some call the "peak of the supersonic era."

Today, however, the cruising speeds of most passenger jets average at a little over 1,000 km per hour. Nevertheless, researchers working at one of the world's leading airlines expect things to be fascinating by 2050; they suggest that many passenger planes will be able to cover the distance between London and New York inonly two hours. Consider these top examples of the world's fastest aircraft in 2022:

TU-144: There's some argument about which supersonic commercial aircraft should be classified as the fastest. However, there seems to be agreement about the Soviet-built TU-144's ranking as the fastest plane of its kind. Many put this aircraft significantly ahead of the fancied Concorde. Many also consider the TU-144 as ranking ahead of its British-French sister model.

The TU-144 first flew out in 1968 on New Year's Eve. This was just months before the Western version flew cruised out. The Soviet plane cruised at a remarkable top speed of Mach 2.299(or 2,430km per hour); it, however, averaged at Mach 1.6. But the TU-144's glory was ultimately short-lived.

Thus, in 1978, the TU-144 was retired from passenger service. This happened only a year after Aeroflot inaugurated its first passenger flight. By that time, TU- 144 had only done 55 passenger flights. Unfortunately, the TU-144 had also been involved in several fatal accidents during this time. The first accident occurred during the famous Paris Air Show in 1973- the cause of the accident was never determined. Another accident occurred in Russia during a 1978 test flight. It was traced to a ruptured fuel line. As a result of the flaw that caused the fatal accident, the authorities declared the aircraft unsafe for use in passenger travel.

BA Concorde: Like many other British Airways Concorde model, the BA Concorde is set to become a veritable museum piece that will keep attracting many visiting tourists. However, the BA Concorde has remained active for a long time after its inception. It served as a Buran Space Shuttle Pilots training aircraft. It was also used as NASA's research aircraft, especially in radiological and high altitude conditions. Eventually, in June 1999 the TU-144 made its final flight.

The British French Concorde, the BA Concorde's supersonic rival, enjoyed a much longer lifespan while serving as a commercial passenger plane. The aircraft version made its first passenger flight in January 1976. At that time, it made a top speed, cruising at Mach 2.04 (2,180 km per hour).The aircraft slid off the passenger service in 2003. This was after the Concorde had had a fatal accident three years earlier (in 2000); at that time, the fleet's Air France ( flight 4590) had crashed soon after taking off from Charles de Gaulle airport.

Lufthansa 747-8i: Pundits recognize this model of the Lufthansa as the fastest passenger plane that remains in active service. The two supersonic Lufthansa aircraft, which were once available for passenger service, are no longer in use. Interestingly, the fastest aircraft (of the pair) crashed off the service after a relatively short stint in the air.

Boeing 747-8i (the 747-8 Intercontinental): Boeing 747-8i, also known as the 747-8 Intercontinental, is the fastest passenger aircraft in service. The Queen of the Skies cruises at a maximum speed of Mach 0.86. But, having a ride aboard the glorified Queen may not be possible for many. Why? Only a few select airlines own the coveted aircraft: Air China, Lufthansa, and Korean Air. However, the 747-8 Intercontinental has a sibling- the 747-400; cruising at Mach 0.855, the latter ranks as the second-fastest passenger plane in service.