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Technology is developing by leaps and bounds. Trains have transformed into bullet trains. Now, the distance that took days to travel can be completed in just a few hours.

Have you ever wondered how fast do planes fly and can they fly faster? Let us learn about aviation speed today!

How Fast Do Airplanes Fly?

In general, airships fly anywhere at a speed of 100 mph to a few thousand miles per hour.

The speed depends on the type of plane and the purpose of the plane.

For example, Cessna 172 has a speed of 188 mph, Boeing 747-400 has a speed of 656 mph, etc.

What Is a Commercial Plane?

airplane

Commercial planes are planes that carry either passengers and/or freight. They are not military planes.

Some of the famous commercial planes are Boeing 787, Airbus A320, Boeing 747-400, BAC Concorde, etc.

How Fast Do Commercial Passenger Jets Fly?

Commercial passenger jets usually fly at a speed of nearly 460 to 575 mph or 400 to 500 knots when flying at a height of 36,000 feet.

This speed equals 0.75 to 0.85 Mach and it is equal to 75 to 85 % of the speed of sound (1 Mach = speed of sound).

As a general rule, the higher the aircraft flies, the faster it can fly.

What Happens if Planes Fly Outside of Their Recommended Speeds?

If an airplane reaches speed outside of its recommended speed, it can easily stress the fuselage and structure and eventually damage the plane.

Sometimes, overspeeding can even break the whole aircraft.

If an aircraft flies slower than the recommended speed then the plane would stall, which means the air flowing around the wing is not moving fast to lift the aircraft.

This leads to losing height and eventually leads to a plane crash.

How Fast Does a 747 Fly?

stealth-bomber

Boeing flies at speeds of 500 to 600 miles per hour. Here is the small table that shows the speed of an aircraft of Boeing.

The ground speed of a Boeing 747 is around 160 mph to 200 mph.

TypeSpeed
Boeing 747550 miles per hour
Boeing 777644 miles per hour
Boeing 787652 miles per hour

Do Planes Fly at Maximum Speed?

No, planes don’t fly at their maximum speed as it is extremely fuel-inefficient i.e. the fuel consumption increases manifolds.

It costs the airplanes nearly thousands of dollars extra thereby increasing the plane’s ticket prices.

Additionally, it won’t be a comfortable experience for the customers to travel at a high speed.

What Determines the Speed at Which Passenger Planes Fly?

Once the commercial airliners (or any plane for that matter) takeoff, they should maintain a speed that is between stall speed (below which it will crash) and maximum operating Mach number (beyond which the plane may break apart).

As the height increases, the stall speed increases. The air also gets thinner and the airplane must fly faster to maintain its altitude.

However, the maximum operating Mach number stays constant.

But the actual cruising speed decreases as the height increases because as height increases the temperature decreases and as temperature decreases, the speed of sound also decreases.

So, the speed of aircraft is relative to the air.

The speed also depends on the type of airplane. In general, jet airlines are faster than turboprop planes.

Wind speed and the direction of the wind also play a role in determining the speed of an aircraft.

Wind speed affects the groundspeed (speed of a plane relative to the ground) but doesn’t affect airspeed significantly.

What Are the Fastest Planes in the World?

fighter-jet

Tu-114 of the Soviet Union is the fastest single-engine plane.

It has a top speed of 540 mph or 870 km/hr at a height of 26,000 feet or nearly 8 kilometers.

Concorde is the fastest commercial aircraft in the world with a speed of around 1,354 mph.

It was also the first supersonic airplane used for commercial purposes. 

Lockheed SR-71 or Black Bird is the fastest military plane (also the fastest plane ever) that is able to fly at a speed of 2,400 mph or 3,900 km/h.

It can fly over at a height of 85,000 feet or 25 kilometers.

What About Private Jets?

Private jets are generally piston-powered single engines. It is similar to the power of a car. Jet aircraft are used only for shorter distances.

The engines are not made to travel for longer distances the way commercial aircraft are designed.

However, some jets can travel at a distance of 6,952 nautical miles or 8,000 miles.

What Is the Slowest a Plane Can Fly?

The slowest a plane can fly is at around the speed of stall speed. The less air resistance at stall speed is not strong enough to keep the plane in the air.

The stall speed also depends on the weight of the freight or passenger aircraft.

Controlling the plane gets extremely difficult at this speed and hence, it is not the safest speed to maintain.

Do Cargo Planes Fly Faster?

military-cargo-plane

Cargo planes are similar to passenger aircraft. So, they have similar speeds.

However, when the cargo carries any critical or time-sensitive cargo, then they may fly at higher speeds than usual.

Different Levels and Speeds of Flying

Aircraft necessarily have to fly at around recommended speeds at different levels to ensure a safe journey.

The different speeds at different levels are:

Takeoff – The takeoff speed should be around 160 to 180 mph or 140 to 156 knots.

Cruising – The speed must be 550 to 600 miles per hour or 478 to 521 knots.

Landing – Landing speed should be around 130 to 160 miles per hour or 112 to 156 knots.

Private jets maintain a speed of around 400 to 700 mph (similar to commercial airplanes).

Military aircraft is the fastest aircraft compared to others (jet airliner, commercial freight or passenger, or single engine).

What Is the Top Speed of Most Popular Airplanes?

stealth-fighter-jet
TypeTop Speed
Cessna 172 (Private)188 miles per hour
Piper PA-18 (Private)130 miles per hour
Piper PA-28 (Private)142 miles per hour
Diamond DV20 Katana (Private)159 miles per hour
BAC Concorde (Commercial)1,354 miles per hour
Boeing 787 (Commercial)652 miles per hour
SR-71 Blackbird (Military)2,193 miles per hour
F-22 Raptor (Military)1,500 miles per hour
F-35 Lightning (Military)1,227 miles per hour
F-15 Eagle (Military)1,875 miles per hour
B-2 Spirit ((Military Bomber)628 miles per hour

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