Norwegian Airline Sets Transatlantic Speed Record

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It was not Concord supersonic speed, but a Norwegian airlines Boeing 787-9 aircraft set a new record for the London to New York City route. The plane left from Gatewick and landed at JFK. The flight shows how much weather affects fuel consumption and why some routes are much more expensive for carriers than others.

The carrier’s management wrote:

Norwegian flight DY7014 from New York JFK to London Gatwick on Monday 15 January completed the full duration of the flight in 5 hours and 13 minutes – the fastest transatlantic flight recorded on a subsonic commercial aircraft. The previous record was 5 hours and 16 minutes.

The flight carrying 284 passengers departed New York at 11:44am and arrived at London at 9:57pm – 53 minutes early.

Winds aloft made it possible to set the record:

Europe’s third largest low-cost airline, operates double daily flights between London and New York using the state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The flight benefitted from strong tailwinds over the Atlantic Ocean that reached a maximum of 176 knots (202mph). The tailwinds pushed the aircraft to a top speed of 776mph during the flight.

At sea level, the speed of sound is 767 mph.

Norwegian bought another 11 new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft for delivery this year. The planes are expensive. The Boeing list price for the aircraft is $281.6 million.

A 788-9 burns about one gallon of fuel per second. Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) says that a 747 burns 36,000 gallons over the course of a ten-hour flight. The 787-9 is a smaller plane and more fuel efficient. A guess for fuel consumption for the record flight: 15,000 gallons. Jet fuel costs about $1.50 per gallon. The fuel cost for the record set by Norwegian flight DY7014 was about $22,000.

The time it takes to cross the Atlantic on the same route East to West is almost two hours. That means the cost of the jet fuel in that direction is nearly $31,000.

Not all flights are created equal, at least in terms of fuel costs.