How Fast Do Passenger Planes Really Go? The Need For Speed in Air Travel

How Fast Do Passenger Planes Fly

Just like the sailboat needs wind to stay afloat, an airplane needs airflow to generate lift. Otherwise, how is the plane supposed to uphold approximately 200 to 300 tons of weight in the air? When passenger planes fly at a certain speed, the risks of stalls, loss of control, increased drag, and turbulence sensitivity are hugely reduced. Flying at the required speed does not concern safety measures, which help avoid potential hazards. When flying, a pilot always keeps an eye on the anemometer, a gadget that helps the pilot know how fast or slow they are moving in the air. This gadget applies total pressure and static pressure to calculate the speed of the aircraft. If you are curious to know how fast do passenger planes fly? You must consider reading further.

The Speed of Passenger Planes in MPH

When speaking of the speed of passenger planes, there are several important factors to talk of, such as route, wind, and the specifications of each aircraft. Maritime navigation measures the speed of planes in Knots (1 Knot equals 1.85 kilometers per hour). On the contrary, Aeronautics calculates the speed in Mach (this ratio indicates how the airflow velocity compares to the speed of sound at a given location). 

The general rule suggests that passenger planes move around Mach 77, which is equal to about 860 kilometers per hour, or 14 Kilometers every minute. Amongst the modern fleet, the Airbus A33Neo seems to be the fastest aircraft, running at 1061 kilometers per hour. After that comes the Boeing B788, which runs up to 1051 kilometers per hour. 

Let’s discuss how fast do passenger planes fly mph.

Type of AircraftsKnotsCruise MachMPH
Airbus A380Mach 0.85488 kts562 mph
Boeing 747-8Mach 0.855490 kts564 mph
Airbus A320neoMach 0.78450 kts518 mph
Boeing 737 MAXMach 0.79453 kts521 mph
Embraer EMB-145Mach 0.78450 kts518 mph
Boeing 787 DreamlinerMach 0.85488 kts562 mph
Concorde SST (retired)Mach 1.751,165 kts1,341 mph

The Take-Off and Landing Speed of Passenger Planes 

Do the aircraft fly at the Same Speed Throughout? No, an aircraft’s takeoff and landing speed is different from when it is flying high in the sky.

For Take-OffsFor Landing
The average speed of an aircraft while taking off should be anywhere between 250 to 300 kilometers per hour.
The pilot will then follow the speed limits of V1, VR, VX, and VY until it reaches the expected altitude and a safe ascent.
After deploying the flaps and creating wind resistance, the pilot helps the plane slow down to 240/250 kilometers per hour.
The pilot then presses the plane’s brakes to touch the ground slowly until it reaches a speed that allows the plane to land safely.

Considerable Factors that Impact the Speed of a Plane

Now that you know the speed at which passenger planes fly, you must learn something about the factors that considerably impact the plane’s speed.

Practically, the speed that matters to the passengers, as well as the route planners, is the speed at which the plane is flying, which is referred to as the Ground Speed. It’s the same as driving your car at a speed of 60 mph for three hours but with added tailwinds and subtracted headwinds.

The pilot controls the air that moves over the plane’s wings inside the cockpit. This measurement is commonly referred to as Airspeed. There are two types of airspeed: true airspeed and indicated airspeed.

True Airspeed accurately measures the air temperature and density, which change with altitude and weather. Indicated airspeed, on the other hand, is not as accurate as true airspeed and requires correction on time.

Different Flying Speeds of The Plane: From Leaving To Parking

We hope you know that aircraft don’t fly at the same speed throughout the way. The speed shifts from 250 knots or less when flying above 100000 feet or so. Around busy airports, the flights must slow down and get to a speed of 200 knots or less. Let’s learn more about the flying speeds of the plane:

Climb SpeedThe pilot prioritizes getting to a safe altitude as early as possible. If the pilot leaves the runway with enough speed, he will quickly achieve an accurate altitude, followed by a slow forward speed. After reaching a safe altitude, the pilot eventually transitions to a more efficient climb profile. 
What does this mean?Reducing the engine’s power, lowering the nose of the plane, and getting more forward speed but with a slow climb rate. 
Cruise SpeedThe plane’s cruise phase is pre-arranged by the pilot, who sets the desired engine power and the Mach number to determine the aircraft’s ground speed and range. Noticeably, the cruise speed of almost all the planes is more or less the same. 
Subsonic transport aircraft are limited to speeds between Mach 0.9 and 0.95 due to airflow acceleration over certain aircraft parts, making it necessary to balance airflow to avoid stalling. Despite efficient jet engine operation at high altitudes, aircraft wings struggle due to lower air density. This leads to a narrow speed range between stalling and exceeding the maximum operating Mach number (Mmo). Consequently, many airliners fly at similar speeds, adjusting for turbulence during cruise.
Descent SpeedSo, typically, commercial planes or passenger planes make two types of descent: Cruise Descent and Landing Approach. The former means losing hold of the altitude without forward speed and exceeding MMO. Their forward speed changes since they reduce engine thrust and let gravity do the rest.
Descending below 10,000 feet mandates adhering to a 250-knot speed limit, necessitating reduced power and potential use of drag devices like air spoilers. As speed decreases, flaps are employed to augment wing lift. When approaching the airport, aircraft aim to slow down to around 150 knots or less while retaining control. This involves utilizing wing flaps and other high-lift devices to ensure maneuverability.
Supersonic Air TravelSupersonic air travel occurs when a plane flies at a speed greater than the local sound velocity. The speed of sound (Mach 1) varies with temperature and atmospheric pressure (15 degrees Celsius in air and sea level), at which sound travels at a speed of 122 km (760 miles) per hour. 

Wrap-up Analysis 

In closing, passenger planes zip through the sky pretty fast! Thanks to smart engineering and technology, aircraft can fly at speeds of over 500 to 600 miles per hour. This lets us get to faraway places quickly. But remember, how fast a plane goes can change depending on things like the type of plane, the weather, and where it’s flying. 

Popular Queries!

How fast does a normal passenger plane fly?

The average speed for a normal passenger plane that flies long distances is around 880 to 926 kilometers per hour, which is around 547 to 575 meters per hour. 

How fast does a 747 fly?

A 767 is a large-bodied aircraft and the fastest in the world. It can take off at 160 knots, which is about 184 meters per hour, and cruise at 660 meters per hour (Mach 0.86). 

What is the maximum speed for a passenger flight?

The general speed of passenger planes is around Mach 77, which equals 860 kilometers per hour, which goes about 14 kilometers per minute. 

Do planes have speed limits?

Yes. It’s important to be mindful that passenger planes don’t run at the same speed and have certain limits when flying. Legally, the Pilots cannot fly the planes at their desired speed.

How fast can a plane go legally?

A plane can go as fast as 250 knots when flying under ten thousand feet MSL (less than 10,000 ft above mean sea level)

What happens if a plane goes too fast?

If we talk about Jet aircraft, overspeeding results when the axial compressor exceeds its max operating speed, ultimately leading to mechanical failure of turbine blades, flameout, and engine destruction.

What happens if a plane runs out of fuel?

If a plane runs out of fuel, its engine will stop working. When the engine stops, the pilot loses power by holding the plane still. Afterward, specific functions of the plane also stop working. 

Do bigger planes fly faster?

Larger planes such as the Airbus 380 and Boeing 787 are specifically designed for long-haul routes. Both planes cruise at 0.85 Mach, which is about 669 meters per hour. These jets cruise faster than the short-range aircraft used mainly for domestic flights. 

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