How fast is a mach 21

Faster planes bring the world closer together

Since the exciting times of the Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde (1976 to 2003), airlines have been tempted to test the limits of traveling at supersonic speeds. The British-French aircraft with turbojet propulsion, the iconic slim fuselage and the lowerable nose set new standards with a maximum speed of more than twice the speed of sound (Mach 2.04) - this corresponds to a speed when reaching cruising altitude of 1,354 miles or 2,180 Kilometers per hour.

Various reasons were given as to why the machine was being retired. But today there is general consensus that a lack of innovation in both design and performance of the aircraft led British Airways and Air France to halt the project. High fuel costs and the manageable capacity of 92 to 128 passengers also played a role.

Nowadays, however, faster air travel has become conceivable again. Three reasons play a role here and have created perfect conditions in the aviation industry.

Technological development

The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird long-range reconnaissance aircraft, which was used by the US Air Force between 1964 and 1998, is the fastest aircraft at Mach 3.3 (3,540 km / h). Until now. Researchers and manufacturers have learned from the mistakes of the Concorde and Tu-144 and are eager to develop sustainable technologies for supersonic aircraft.

The X-59 QueSST aircraft (short for Quiet Supersonic Technology) was developed to overcome the problem of dangerously loud sonic booms. It can reach a speed of Mach 2.2 comparatively quietly. The jet is part of NASA's Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator program and is manufactured by Lockheed Martin at a cost of $ 247.5 million. The X-59 will be delivered in 2021 and test flights will start in 2022. Many expect this aircraft to make supersonic travel suitable for the masses.

Shortage of pilots and a dramatically growing demand for air travel

According to a forecast by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the annual demand for air travel is expected to double to 7.8 billion in the next 20 years. At the same time, the number of pilots in the US has decreased by 30 percent since 1987. In the 1980s, around two thirds of airline pilots came from the military; today it is less than a third. The Navy is assuming ten percent vacancies in 2020, and the Air Force will probably be short of 1,000 pilots in 2022. The problem could be partially solved by fast airliners getting more passengers to their destinations in less time.

There is an urgent need to reduce CO2 emissions

Currently, the faster you fly, the more fuel is burned. The longest non-stop flight in commercial aviation history was last year, lasted 19 hours, and ran from Singapore to Newark, New Jersey. The fuel system of the Airbus A350-900 ULR (Ultra-Long Range) had to take in an additional 24,000 liters of kerosene to cover the distance of 9,700 nautical miles (almost 18,000 kilometers).

At the same time, the airline industry has never been more aware of the need to reduce its carbon footprint - especially in the face of recent catastrophic events related to climate change. The IATA's CO2 compensation and reduction system CORSIA (Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) is committed to CO2-neutral growth from 2020 and aims to reduce emissions to half of 2005 levels by 2050. The challenge of flying faster with less fuel has spurred numerous projects researching new composites and sustainable fuels for air travel that could solve the problems of fuel efficiency in even faster aircraft.

The fastest commercial aircraft in the world

If you want to get to a certain place as quickly as possible in the meantime, the following aircraft are ready.

Boeing 777 (1,036 km / h)

The fifth fastest machine is the Boeing 777 wide-body aircraft with two drive turbines, which was first introduced in June 1995 and is designed for long-haul flights. The American-made B777 is the largest twin-engine aircraft in the world and is particularly popular with the airline heavyweights British Airways, United Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Emirates. The maximum capacity is 396 passengers. The Boeing 777 covers great distances at a cruising speed of Mach 0.84 with ease.

The 777 is Boeing's most-produced wide-body aircraft and even surpasses the 747. As of January 2019, around 60 customers had ordered a total of 2,013 aircraft of all variants (1,584 had already been delivered) since United Airlines started commercial operations in 1995. The model is also the very first airliner to be designed entirely on the computer. 3D CAD software from Dassault Systèmes and IBM was used to make sketches of the 777. The system was groundbreaking because it enabled engineers to design an entire aircraft in a simulation. This enabled them to check for any malfunctions and ensure that the tens of thousands of parts fit together properly, reducing costly reworks to the aircraft.

Boeing 787 and Airbus A380 (1,049 km / h)

Third place is shared by the two rivals Boeing and Airbus. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, introduced in October 2011, is a medium-sized twin-engine long-haul aircraft that offers space for a maximum of 335 passengers and a cruising speed of Mach 0.85. The 787 is 20 percent more fuel efficient than the Boeing 767 it replaced. The aircraft features a largely electronic flight system, inclined wing tips, noise-reducing chevrons (the jagged ends of the engine nacelles), and larger windows than any civil aircraft currently in service or under development. They are around 28 by 48 centimeters and placed higher up so that passengers have a good view of the horizon. As of 2011, Boeing reportedly invested $ 32 billion in the 787 program. In 2018, the value of a new 787-9 was given as 145 million US dollars, in 2014 it was 135 million US dollars.

The same Mach number also achieved the double-decker, four-engine wide-body aircraft A380 from Boeing's largest competitor, Airbus. The A380, built in Europe, is the largest passenger aircraft in the world and can hold up to 853 passengers. Driven by four Engine Alliance GP7200 or Rolls-Royce Trent 900 turbofan engines, this giant has a range of 8,000 nautical miles (around 14,800 kilometers). The aircraft is mainly used by Emirates (123 orders) as well as Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is particularly popular with Japan Airlines, Qatar Airways and United Airlines.

The A380 project, which began in December 2000, was initially estimated to cost € 9.5 billion, but increased to € 18 billion following a two-year delay due to problems with the aircraft's electrical system. The peak of A380 production came in 2014 with 30 machines per year. Airbus now assumes that the investments in the development of the jet will never pay off. The last Airbus A380 is expected to be produced in 2021.

Boeing 747-400 (1,055 km / h)

In second place is the four-engined Boeing 747-400 wide-body aircraft. The best-selling model in the Boeing 747 range offers airlines technological and structural improvements over previous models such as the 747-300. These include winglets measuring around 1.80 meters on equally large extensions of the wing tips, a glazed cockpit for two pilots (which made the flight engineer superfluous), engines with improved fuel efficiency, an optional tank in the horizontal stabilizer and improved cladding for the fuselage and wings. The interior of the jet features an improved in-flight entertainment system and offers space for up to 660 passengers in a dense one-class configuration.

The new engines - Pratt & Whitney PW4056, General Electric CF6-80C2B1F or Rolls-Royce RB211-524G / H - consume less fuel, generate more thrust and have FADEC (Full-Authority Digital Engine Control). The 747-400 races through the air at a speed of Mach 0.855, slightly faster than its competitors. It has been in service since 1989, offers space for a maximum of 660 passengers and is mainly used by British Airways, Qantas and Lufthansa. Since the 747-400 can fly up to 7,670 nautical miles (a good 14,200 kilometers) without interruption, it is often used on long haul routes.

Boeing 747-8i (1,060 km / h)

The fastest aircraft in the world is also part of the Boeing family - the Boeing 747-8i wide-body aircraft. Also known as the 747-8 Intercontinental, this super-fast machine has newly developed wings and engines as well as an improved fuselage and greater efficiency. It can carry 342 passengers, eight of them in First Class and 92 in Business Class. The Boeing 747-8i sprinted into service in 2012 and leaves all competitors behind with Mach 0.86.

The 747-8 is in a kind of celebrity feud on the long haul with the Airbus A380. Boeing says its aircraft is ten percent lighter per seat and uses eleven percent less fuel per passenger than the A380, which would reduce the cost of a trip by 21 percent and reduce costs per seat-kilometer by about six percent.

In 2017, the US Air Force announced that the current Air Force One and Air Force Two presidential planes - both Boeing 747-200s - would be replaced by Boeing 747-8s, which were originally intended for the bankrupt Russian airline Transaero. The jets will be retrofitted with telecommunication systems and safety equipment to bring them up to the standards required by a presidential aircraft.

Honorable mention

Boeing already has plans to build the fastest airliner in the world that will eclipse everything the civil aviation industry has ever known. The hypersonic jet should be able to reach Mach 5, i.e. five times the speed of sound or 6,115 km / h. This means that a flight from London to New York only takes two hours, currently it is about six hours and 45 minutes.

The goal is to be able to cross oceans there and back in one day, which requires speeds of Mach 5, said Kevin Bowcutt, Boeing's chief researcher in hypersonic, in an interview with Aviation Week.

Taking into account possible setbacks and delays, such as requirements from the market, regulatory authorities or environmental regulations, Boeing hopes to be able to commission the aircraft before the end of the 2040s. In preparation for civil hypersonic flights, Boeing has unveiled designs for a military reconnaissance, surveillance and reconnaissance jet that could take off in 2023.

Apparently Boeing has competition in the development of supersonic flight. The Chinese Academy of Sciences is reportedly developing plans for a two-tier biplane that will reach Mach 5 and bring passengers and cargo from Beijing to New York in two hours - eleven hours less than current travel time.

Until supersonic and hypersonic flights become standard, private charter flights still offer passengers the best way to travel quickly and comfortably. The Cessna Citation X + is currently the fastest private jet in the world, and the two-channel FADEC-controlled Rolls-Royce AE3007C2 turbofan engines can reduce travel times by hours compared to the fastest commercial aircraft.

Find out more about the world's fastest private jets with Air Charter Service and let us arrange a tailor-made and worry-free private jet charter for you.