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Norwegian’ Dreamliner set a speed record on transatlantic

Anastasia Dagaeva
January 20, 2018

Norwegian Airlines flight from New York to London on January 15 arrived 53 minutes ahead of schedule, having performed the fastest transatlantic flight ever recorded on a subsonic commercial aircraft. The final flight time: five hours and 13 minutes, according to Bloomberg

The good time came thanks to better-than-expected weather conditions and a hefty tailwind, which helped the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner gain three minutes over the previous record, held by a 2015 British Airways route that spanned five hours and 16 minutes. Still, the Norwegian flight’s captain said an even-faster time may be in the cards.

“We were actually in the air for just over five hours, and if it had not been for forecasted turbulence at lower altitude, we could have flown even faster,” said Captain Harold van Dam at Norwegian in a statement. 

The time is nothing compared to what was possible on the Concorde, the sky-high-priced supersonic plane that could cross the Atlantic in a sprightly 3.5 hours and ceased operation in 2003.  Supersonic air travel, while faster, is fairly controversial: It can create such unpleasant ground-level disturbances as shattered windows, cracked plaster and very confused farm animals. For this reason, supersonic travel has mostly been banned since 1973. 

But there’s hope yet for those desperate to shave more time off their New York to London route: NASA announced in 2017 that it would accept bids for construction of a demo model for a supersonic aircraft with a low-level sonic boom.

Peter Coen, project manager for NASA’s commercial supersonic research team, told Bloomberg that growth in air travel and distances flown “will drive the demand for broadly available faster air travel,” making it possible for companies to “offer competitive products in the future.”