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supersonic flight and jet streams

Jet Streams and the Fastest British Airways Flight

What Happened?

A British Airways flight broke the subsonic speed record during its New York-to-London journey aided by Jet Streams.

The Boeing 747-436 plane was able to achieve a speed of 1,327 kph as it was aided by a strong jetstream generated due to Storm Ciara.

Other flights travelling across the North Atlantic from west to east also experienced shorter travel time

Most commercial planes fly at the jetstream level, and a strong jet stream can provide a potent tailwind to a flight travelling from west to east, like the British Airways flight, which flew from New York to London.

This helps reduce the travel time for such flights, as their speeds are boosted.

Storm Ciara, which affected northern Europe on Sunday, helped create a powerhouse jetstream  in the North Atlantic.

Long-distance flights, which generally travel at speeds of around 900 kph, can fly faster when aided by such a jet stream, as in case of the British Airways flight, which achieved speeds above 1300 kmph.

What are Jet Streams?

  • Jet streams are narrow bands of strong winds that flow over thousands of kilometres from west to east.
  • Major jets are found near the upper levels of the atmosphere, around 9 to 16 km from the earth’s surface, and can reach speeds of over 320 kph.
  • They s shift to the north or south depending on the season.
  • During winters, the wind current is the strongest.
  • They are also closer to the Equator during winter.
  • The major ones are the Polar Front, Subtropical, and Tropical jet streams. In India, the Tropical jet stream influences the formation and duration of the summer monsoon.
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