Why Aren't Commercial Planes WAY Faster?

L.A. to NYC in an hour?

In recent decades, military jets have been able to accomplish incredible things, reaching the upper limits of the Earth's atmosphere and being propelled forward faster than ever before. 

If these jets can routinely go well over twice the speed of sound, why are commercial jets still so slow by comparison? Sure, flying commercial is still faster than every other kind of transportation, but some international flights can feel like an eternity. And it's about to get a lot worse with the introduction of bench seating from AirBus.

It wasn't always that way. The Concorde, before it was retired in 2003, reached an average cruising speed of 1,330 mph, far surpassing the speed of sound at 767 mph and more than twice as fast as a typical commercial jet, which cruises around 575 mph. 

Despite the Concorde's achievements, it never really caught on and there hasn't been a successor to offer such speedy travel to the average passenger. There were some problems that made the Concorde impractical for most flights, but those challenges are now being addressed.

In the most recent episode of SciShow, host Hank Green talks about the future of air travel and how long we need to wait until supersonic commercial flights are back to stay.


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Cover image: Carlos Wunderlin / Shutterstock.com


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