10 of the Fastest Passenger Airplanes Ever

by Binupriya Tomy9 months ago
Picture 10 of the Fastest Passenger Airplanes Ever

Airplanes are the fastest means of transportation nowadays. There are a couple of them that are tops in speed compared to several hundreds of variants that take over the sky every single day. Planes are made to be the fastest despite their large body and passenger count. Here are 10 of the fastest passenger airplanes ever made. 

1 Tupolev Tu-144

Tu-144, also nicknamed the “Concordski,” was the first supersonic passenger aircraft. The Soviet Union beat the UK and France’s Concorde to be the first supersonic passenger aircraft. The cabin noise was so loud inside a Tu-144 that the passengers had to write notes to each other if they wanted to talk.

Tupolev Tu-144
Image credit: Mila Daniel/planes.cz via Wikimedia

Tupolev Tu-144 was the first commercial aircraft to go supersonic. It exceeded Mach 2 and was in operation between 1968-1999. Rising fuel prices and reliability restricted the regular use of the aircraft. The passenger service was withdrawn three years later, and the aircraft was then restricted to flights only for cargo. 

With its maiden flight on December 31, 1968, the Tu-144 beat the Concorde to the skies. The same year, the Soviet Union achieved landing a probe on Mars along with launching the first space station. They gained respect from their Anglo-French competitors for their track record in aerospace developments. 

The distinctive feature of Tupolev was the presence of a pair of canards behind the cockpit that helped in providing extra lift and made the aircraft great at handling at low speeds. Tupolev was faster and bigger than Concorde. The maximum speed reached 1,510 mph. Tu-144 conducted around 102 commercial flights before a series of crashes, rising fuel prices, and the Soviet Union losing interest in the project caused them to shut the program down. (1, 2)

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2 Concorde

The Concorde was the supersonic jet that successfully lasted longer than Tu-144 and could move twice the speed of sound. These planes entered service in 1976 and stayed around until 2003. The cost overruns and delays led to less production. The tickets were more than 30 times the tickets on ordinary flights. 

Concorde
Image credits: The U.S. National Archives via picryl.com

The Anglo-French jetliner took to the skies on Jan 21, 1976. It completely revolutionized air travel but failed to last a long time as the developmental and maintenance costs were too expensive. It was in service for 27 years. The aircraft was only used by wealthy passengers who wanted luxurious air travel. The flight was retired in 2003 after the crash of the Air France flight that killed all crew and passengers. 

Concorde was one of those aircraft that was successful with a tailless design. The aircraft had many drawbacks. The maximum speed was 1,355 mph.  The surface and the windows were too hot to touch after a flight.

Due to high speeds, the aircraft got slightly distorted at every twist and turn. But Concorde, being one of the fastest passenger airplanes ever, had the greatest range of any supersonic aircraft. There were also some radiation issues. (1, 2)

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3 Boeing 747-8i

Boeing 747-8i is the largest as well as the fastest aircraft that is in service today. This fastest passenger airplane is as huge as a six-story building with the speed of Mach 0.86. It has a capacity of 410 passengers and has a range of 7,730 nautical miles. 

Boeing 747-8i
Image credits: Milad/Wikimedia

The first Boeing 747-8 intercontinental passenger flight was flown on April 26, 2011. The jetliner is quiet, produces low emissions, and has a better fuel economy. It is notably a direct competition for A380. It is currently the world’s longest passenger aircraft that is operational. General Electric GenX is the engine available for this aircraft that can propel it up to 614 mph. The jetliner also has extra fuel capacity compared to 747-400. 

It can carry 467 passengers over a range of 8,000 nautical miles. It is 30% quieter, 13% lower seat-miles cost, and 16% more fuel-efficient than its closest competitors. It is the fastest commercial jet in service now. The assembly of the 747-8i was completed in February 2011. The first airline order for the aircraft was from Lufthansa. It is also going to be used as the U.S Presidential aircraft by 2024 replacing Air Force One, which is Boeing 747-200B. (1, 2)

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4 Boeing 747-400

The Boeing 747, starting from its introduction in 1969, is a huge success in the airline industry. The Boeing 747-400 variant can reach up to Mach 0.855. It has a range of 7,260 nautical miles. It is also well known for its longevity, reputation, and durability. 

Boeing 747-400
Image credits: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt/airliners.net via Wikimedia

The 747-400 achieved a ground speed of 825mph in 2020. It started from JFK airport and landed in Heathrow in just 4 hours 53 minutes and set a record for the fastest on a subsonic aircraft. The 747-400 is made to supersede with 747-8, which is their later commercial model. 

Boeing delivered its first 747-400 to Northwest Airlines in 1989. It now provides services to over 210 airports. It is also renowned to be the “world’s best freighter. ” With it, Boeing also held the record for the fastest commercial jetliner. It underwent many aerodynamic enhancements, and the winglet is angled slightly outward and upward.

This enhanced the airplane’s range, provided better fuel economy, and reduced operating costs. The production of these aircraft was officially ceased after Philippine Airlines canceled the last four orders to switch to 777-300ER. (1, 2)

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5 Boeing 787

This long-haul, twin-engine, widebody jetliner has a cruising speed of Mach 0.85. The aircraft has made 44,000 flight cycles. The first flight was on December 15, 2009, after multiple delays. The aircraft was planned to be made after Boeing decided to drop its Sonic Cruiser project, which was an aircraft that can travel at the speed of sound. 

Boeing 787
Image credits: pjs2005/Wikimedia

The Boeing 787 is the first and fastest passenger aircraft to have an airframe that is completely made of composite materials. It went up to 567 mph at maximum speed. They also use electrical systems extensively. It was targeted to have a 20% less fuel burn rate than 767s. 

The aircraft has two engines and has electrical, bleedless systems. Boeing has adopted technology to reduce the engine sound for the 787. It is quieter both inside and out. The aircraft can be fitted with only Rolls Royce Trent 1000 or General Electric GENx-1B engines. The aircraft manufacturers are also planning to make a freight version of the same by 2023. (1, 2)

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