Hats off to a British Airways pilot who used a 200 mph (322 kmh) tailwind from a storm to bring his passengers safely across the Atlantic in record-breaking time.
Flight BA112 from New York to London normally takes about six-and-a-half hours.
Using the wind accelerated by Storm Ciara, the British Airways Boeing 747-436 made the flight in four hours and 56 minutes, breaking transatlantic subsonic flight records.
The average cruising speed of a passenger jet is 575 mph (925 kmh). The record-breaking jet used the wind to reach speeds of up to 825 mph (1,327 kmh).
The British Airways flight landed at Heathrow Airport, London, 102 minutes early.
The British Airways passenger jet was quicker than the previous record of five hours 13 minutes record held by Norwegian flight DY7014 from JFK International Airport to Gatwick, London, according to Flightradar24, a Swedish online flight tracking service.
Thanks to a strong, well-positioned jet stream, a @British_Airways 747 managed a new New York-London subsonic speed record today, making the journey in 4 hours 56 minutes—17 minutes faster than the previous record. https://t.co/HISXpN6Vns #BA112 pic.twitter.com/A2R42rsx14
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) February 9, 2020
“The pilot will have sat their aircraft in the core of the jet stream and at this time of year it’s quite strong,” aviation consultant and former British Airways pilot Alastair Rosenschein told BBC News.
“Turbulence in those jet streams can be quite severe, but you can also find it can be a very smooth journey.”
The British Airways storm-boosted flight was also three minutes quicker than a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350 that took off two minutes later and went along the same route.
It’s true that we were narrowly beaten by a BA Boeing 747, however they had twice the amount of engines and burnt twice as much fuel as Captain Chris in our brand new, fuel efficient Airbus A350-1000 😎
— Virgin Atlantic (@VirginAtlantic) February 9, 2020
“We always prioritise safety over speed records, but our highly trained pilots made the most of the conditions to get customers back to London well ahead of time,” said a spokesman from British Airways, which is part of IAG.
Commercial flights travelling in the opposite direction were taking as much as two and a half hours longer as they battled against the prevailing winds of Storm Ciara.
Heathrow had to cancel hundreds of flights on Sunday, affecting an estimated 25,000 passengers. BA said it expected more than 100 flights to be cancelled across Heathrow, Gatwick and London City Airport. Virgin said it was cancelling 17 flights.