Tuesday, 23 February 2021

A Year Since Trans Atlantic Subsonic Crossing Record by a BA 747

With the disappearance of 747 Jumbo jets from the BA fleet and those of other major airlines due to Covid, it is appropriate to reflect that just over a year ago, a new record for the crossing time between New York and London was broken by a BA 747 Jumbo flight which was timed at four hours and 56 minutes.
Who could have imagined that world events would send many of the active 747's to the graveyard in the space of less than a year from when the record was achieved.

Thanks to amazing tailwinds and pre planning, a British Airways Boeing 747 flew from New York to London in less than five hours. Passenger plane records for the flying time between North America and Europe were shattered as Storm Ciara hurtled aircraft towards the British Isles at speeds touching more than 800 miles per hour.

Online flight tracking service, Flight Radar 24 recorded British Airways flight number BA112 as departing John F. Kennedy Airport at 11:21 PM UTC and arriving at London Heathrow at 4:48 AM UTC, a flight time of four hours and 56 minutes.

Thanks to the strong jetstream, BA112 effectively shaved 80 minutes off its scheduled arrival time.

The British Airways flight was just one minute shorter than a Virgin Atlantic A350 that was flying the same route between New York JFK and London Heathrow.

While it is quite common to have fast jetstreams at this time of year, they can prove to be either turbulent or very smooth as appears to be the case with the British Airways 747.

The British Airways jumbo jet just managed to beat the Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350 to the title by a single minute, followed by another Virgin Atlantic airliner just two minutes later.

These flights by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic smashed the previous subsonic New York to London flight time set in 2018 by a Norwegian Air Shuttle 787-9 Dreamliner.

On a flight from JFK to London Gatwick back in January of 2018, the Norwegian aircraft did the journey in five hours and 13 minutes. 
During the BA record-shattering flight, The 747 BA112 achieved a peak ground speed of 825 miles per hour as it sped by the eastern seaboard of Greenland at 35,000 feet.

When talking about the new record at the time, a British Airways spokesperson said:

“We always prioritize 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.”

While possibly feeling a little hard done by after losing out on the record by a single minute, Virgin Atlantic released a statement titled:

Silver lining to the storm clouds – Virgin Atlantic’s four hour and 57 minute flight from New York JFK to London Heathrow.

“Last night the Virgin Atlantic VS4 took just four hours and 57 minutes to fly from JFK to London Heathrow (it usually takes approximately six and a half hours) getting our customers on the ground over an hour early. 
Captain Chris Pohl took advantage of a long high altitude Jetstream wind of up to 230 knots and the A350-1000 aircraft managed a top speed of 724 knots and a flight average speed of 625 knots. 
 Efficient planning from the Virgin Atlantic operations team and a steady approach into Heathrow made for unique conditions for this extremely short flight time.”

Virgin Atlantic’s statement also mentions being beaten by the BA 747. However, the airline consoled themselves by pointing out that the 747 had double the engines and burnt twice as much fuel as their new and efficient A350.