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Storm Ciara helps flight from New York to London set a subsonic speed record

Sunday, February 9th 2020, 3:28 pm - A strong storm, known in Europe as Storm Ciara, helped a British Airways flight become the fastest subsonic New York to London journey.

A plane whizzed by the Avalon Saturday evening; the flight, however, was far from ordinary.

British Airways Flight 112 was travelling over 1300 km/h through the atmosphere, catching a furiously fast-moving jet streak, which is a narrow band of enhanced wind speeds, extending across the northern Atlantic Ocean.


The film Return of the King, which is the final saga in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, clocks in at 4 hours and 20 minutes. British Airways Flight 112 made the transatlantic journey in 4 hours and 56 minutes. Occasionally, this route can take over 6.5 hours to complete.

But, it's no Concorde. The Concorde program, a defunct supersonic passenger airline, made the journey in a stunningly fast 2 hours and 52 minutes.


It depends on your definition of cheating, but to do this route in under 5 hours, the jet stream needs to align along the flight path with relative precision. The winds several kilometres above the ground were racing at over 350 km/h – a very formidable jet streak indeed.



It's all about relative motion.

From an observer on the ground, the plane is traversing the sky at over 1300 km/h, but that comes with a big boost from the jet stream (+350 km/h). The plane’s true airspeed would have been under 1000 km/h, the maximum specified airspeed for a Boeing 747-400, hence the lack of a sonic shock wave.

Not only was this beefy jet stream responsible for the record-breaking flight time, but it also fuelled an area of adverse weather in Europe. A strong storm, known in Europe as Storm Ciara, pummeled the continent with damaging winds, causing numerous power outages and flight cancellations across the region.


With files from BBC News.

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