A British Airways plane has reportedly set a record for a speedy flight from New York to London, propelled by hurricane-force winds as a storm batters Britain.
The Boeing 747-436 completed the 3500-mile transatlantic journey in 4 hours and 56 minutes, landing 102 minutes early and reaching a top speed of 1327km/h, according to flight tracking website Flightradar24.
It is thought to be the fastest flight by a conventional aircraft for the trip and came as Storm Ciara battered Britain and northern Europe.
Two Virgin Airlines flights also roared across the Atlantic in record times during the storm – sparking some gentle sniping between the competing airlines.
It’s true that we were narrowly beaten by a BA Boeing 747, however they had twice the amount of engines and burnt twice as much fuel as Captain Chris in our brand new, fuel efficient Airbus A350-1000 😎
— Virgin Atlantic (@VirginAtlantic) February 9, 2020
FlightRadar24 said the British Airways flight beat the previous record, held by Norwegian, by 17 minutes.
Aviation consult and former BA pilot Alastair Rosenschein told the BBC that high winds and plane speed were often hard to perceive for passengers onboard.
“Turbulence in those jet streams can be quite severe, but you can also find it can be a very smooth journey,” he said.
“The pilot will have sat their aircraft in the core of the jet stream and at this time of year it’s quite strong.”
A further bonus for aviation enthusiasts was that the plane’s speed was 90km/h faster than sound – meaning it was, technically, a supersonic flight.
The fastest transatlantic crossing belongs to BA Concorde, which flew from New York to London in two hours 52 minutes and 59 seconds in 1996 – hitting a top speed of 2172km/h.
Elsewhere, Ciara’s hurricane-force winds and heavy rain halted other flights and trains and brought heaving seas that shut ports across Britain.
There were huge crowds of stranded, frustrated travellers at London’s King’s Cross and Euston train stations. Train crews planned to work all night to try to restore service, but Monday’s commutes were expected to be long and chaotic.
Ports on either side of the English Channel, Dover in England and Calais in France, closed amid high waves. Thousands of homes in Ireland and Paris lost power.
Authorities urged millions of people to stay inside, away from falling tree branches. The strongest winds were in the village of Aberdaron in northern Wales, which recorded 150km/h.
Storm surges ate away at beaches and pounded rock cliffs and cement docks.
Ciara also interrupted the Queen. She broke with her usual Sunday routine and did not attend church in Sandringham, choosing instead to remain out of harm’s way during the storm.
On the other side of the Channel, Luxembourg and the German city of Cologne said all school children could stay home to avoid travelling under dangerous conditions.