A super-strong jet stream has helped a Virgin Atlantic plane do something it wasn’t built to do and break the speed record.
The Boeing 787 twin-jet aircraft, which was flying from Los Angeles to London, reached the ground speed of 1289 kilometres per hour while at 35,000 feet (10.7 kilometres) above Pennsylvania, according to media reports.
The record-breaking speed was reached thanks to a huge jet stream, and saw the plane arrive in London 48 minutes early.
Plane captain Peter James wrote on Twitter that he had “never seen this kind of tailwind in my life as a commercial pilot!”.
Almost 800 mph now never ever seen this kind of tailwind in my life as a commercial pilot !! (200 mph tailwind ) pic.twitter.com/0XGTkEP9EB
— Peter James (@jetpeter1) February 19, 2019
The speed of sound is 1234 kilometres an hour, but whether air travel breaks the sound barrier hinges on airspeed rather than ground speed.