Commercial travel has started again in earnest after the lockdown due to the Coronavirus. There’s a lot to do to catch up with valuable time lost, and this is where the fastest planes come into their own. Let’s see who we can trust to get us there first. The fastest commercial airliners start with Concorde. However, Concorde no longer flies, and while this iconic airliner should not be missed out, its mention is out of respect for its speed and engineering brilliance rather than the winner on the list.
What do we Mean by Fast?
Aircraft speeds do not measure in the same way as do cars or trains. Mph (miles per hour) is a well-known and widely used term for most vehicles; but it’s far more common to use knots, airspeed and Mach for aircraft.
The Mach number is the velocity relative to the speed of sound. To explain, Mach 1 is equal to the speed of sound, 767mph. So from now on, we will refer to any rate as Mach.
Fastest Commercial Airliners
Here we are with the list of top six fastest commercial airliners which can save a lot of your valuable time during the regular travelling.
1. Boeing 747-8i
Number one spot goes to the Boeing 747-8i. The first passenger plane owned by Lufthansa was delivered in 2012 and outshone all of its competitors at Mach 0.86. In 2016 modifications began on the presidential 747 – 8i, Air Force One, with an estimated delivery date in 2020.
However, it is reported that Boeing plans to cease the production of the 747- 8i as the demand for four-engine airliners has dried up. This rumour could easily be a reality with the decrease in demand for commercial air travel since the lockdown. Only time will tell.
2. Boeing 747 – 400
The aircraft enjoys the reputation of being the best-selling model of the Boeing 747 family. A favourite of British Airways, and coming in at an impressive 0.85 on the Mach scale. Older than the 8i by 13 years this passenger airliner can comfortably carry up to 660 passengers.
3. Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Boeing offers the Dreamliner, powered by two engines, as the fastest commercial airliner to date. Put into operation in 2011 the Dreamliner is not only fast but quiet. As part of Boeing commitment to the environment, every Dreamliner is equipped with noise-reducing technology.
At 0.85 Mach speed this is fast: to make these speeds using 25% less fuel burn is impressive. Because of its size, the Dreamliner was able to operate during the lockdown as the plane is big enough to maintain social distancing.
4. Airbus A380
The Airbus A380 is the largest passenger plane in the world, carrying up to 853 passengers and crew. Launched in 2000 the Airbus is a firm favourite with Emirates and Singapore Airlines: offering matching speeds as the Dreamliner, it is also able to operate during the lockdown. The Airbus is precisely that – a bus in the air.
5. Boeing 777
Introduced in 1995 the 777 is the slowest of the fleet, but there’s not much in it. Cruising at a Mach speed of 0.84 this plane is at it’s best on long haul flights and is very much favoured by British Airways and Emirates.
6. Bombardier Global 6000
The Bombardier is a cross-over airliner. A business jet, the aircraft treads the boards with the commercial planes. Slow in comparison at 0.89 Mach speed but elegant and statesman-like with a wide cabin and long-range.
Also Read: 20 Best Ways to Have Fun in Dubai
Aviation literally doesn’t stand still: and technology pushes the boundaries of time and space. While not at the moment a commercial airliner, we can’t miss the opportunity to look at travelling by air in the future.
In 2019 the Boeing autonomous air taxi prototype completed its first flight. However, only briefly, taking off for a few seconds and landing, the impressive point in this short exercise was that the take-off was vertical.
While this might not seem groundbreaking, this alone shows how far we have come and the efficiency of the vehicle’s autonomous functionality along with revolutionary ground control functions. Is it a vision of the future of the first airborne taxi? Who knows?
Consider the Boom XB-1 Baby Boom, powered by three engines. Known as a trijet, this prototype hailed as aviation’s answer to the supersonic transport airliner. At a planned Mach speed of 2.2, this is stuff sci-fi dreams are made of.
Exhibited at the Paris Air Show in 2019 the Baby Boom is reportedly being rolled out in late 2020. More of a jet than a commercial airliner, we can only wait and see if the idea of London to New York in 2 hours is as attractive as it seems.