14 hour flights sound like your idea of hell? Paul Jenn wrote in asking whether it was possible to speed up plane journeys, so we went to Neil Scott, head of engineering at Airbus, to find out.
Law of diminishing returns applies to making aircraft go faster...
Yes, but this can be solved by flying higher, which is what Concorde did. I generally agree though, we have not got the technology yet to both speed up the flights AND make it cheaper. graham.d, Tue, 17th Jun 2008
The Boeing 7E7, which eventually emerged as the 787, was originally planned to be a highly area-ruled design, capable of flying at just below the speed of sound for the same fuel burn as the then current range of airliners. However, this aspect of the design was eventually dropped in favour of flying at the same speeds as other airliners, but with reduced fuel costs, the main reason being that the airline businesses could charge the same price for the same journey time at a reduced fuel cost to themselves. Reducing the journey time would have seen the same fuel costs - guess which option was most attractive to the airline businesses?
yeah i would imagine it being really expensive and polluting and if its too fast it may give people heart attacks so there may be a speed limit for a aeroplane to be able to made up to benep, Tue, 17th Jun 2008
Aiplanes at present flying altitude have reached the maximum efficieny level. As can be seen be the abadoned Concord.
One version of this "soon to be revealed" project died in 1988.
Air travel gets slower and slower the time actually spent in the aircraft is often about half the of the actual journey time syhprum, Tue, 25th Nov 2014
If you've time to spare, go by air.
The next step may be sub-orbital rocket-assisted space hops.
Even if we get suborbital flights that can reach anywhere on Earth in a few hours (most of which is spent getting the last 50km through the atmosphere), there is still the jet lag, which is sometimes quoted as 1 day elapsed time to fully recover from each hour of timezone change. evan_au, Wed, 26th Nov 2014
I suppose you could minimize your jet lag by flying from Britain to South Africa, or Australia to Korea. Just choose your destinations carefully.
I think airline pilots gain brownie points for saving fuel and often fly the aircraft much slower than the technology alows syhprum, Sat, 29th Nov 2014
The object of airline flying is to meet a schedule: missing a landing slot can be very expensive and screws up everyone else's day too. Private pilots and bush pilots on the other hand tend to fly for maximum range. The speed you fly, in either case, depends on the expected wind vector. Flying slowly is rarely the answer unless you have a hell of a tailwind. You can reduce your fuel consumption to "idle" but in the case of a small piston engine you may end up going backwards (it's quite good fun in a Piper Cub), and in the case of a jet the burn rate at stall speed can actually be higher than the cruise consumption.
The following isn't much help for crossing oceans, but on all other paths it would be better to use a system like the hyperloop - maglev capsules running through vacuum tubes on a narrow track. Faster than planes and environmentally friendly too. David Cooper, Sat, 29th Nov 2014
High speed rail is already being used in many places around the world, except in the USA.
A Moscow to Beijing and on to Alaska high speed rail line is already in the planning stage and will get built if wars don't intervene syhprum, Sun, 30th Nov 2014