Ever Wondered Why Modern Day Planes Fly Slower Than They Did Many Years Ago?

This is why..


Ever wonder why the airplane companies don’t make their planes go faster. Wouldn’t it be better if they arrive at their destinations earlier, and maybe squeeze in another trip?

An observation of the 1967 American flight from New York to LA was a 5 hours 43 minutes long journey. The flight was supposed to leave JFK airport at noon and arrive at LA at 2:43 pm; with the time difference of 3 hours.

However, nowadays the same flight still leaves at noon, the difference is, it is scheduled to reach LA at 3.27pm, 44 minutes later in comparison to 1967.

Overall flying has slowed down.

What has caused this lack of immense progress in the last 50 years?


Airplanes achieves higher speed but also requires immense consumption of fuel.

Higher the bypass ratio, more efficient the engine.

Amount of air that passes through the bypass duct: Amount of air that passes through the engine core

The General Electric GEnx engine used in the 787 Dreamliner and 747 8i has a ratio of 10:1 i.e. 10 times more air around the turbine than through it.

The CFM international CFM 56, an older and lesser efficient engine has a ratio of 5.9:1 which is still better when compared to the Pratt and Whitney JT8d, which has a ratio of .96:1, making it astoundingly inefficient.

The concept of Zero Bypass Engine is explained with the help of Rolls Royce/ Snecma Olympus 593 engine, this engine is a turbojet, which had a ratio of 0:1.100% of the air goes around the turbine and no air is bypassed. However, the fuel consumption is significantly higher. Concorde using this engine burned 46.5 pounds per mile when compared to the 787 Dreamliner which uses the General Electric GEnx consuming 18.7 pounds per mile.

What else has been a reason for a slower flying rate? Continue ahead.


Speed isn’t the most important parameter for the airlines. It is important only from a selling point to the customers. The cost of plane is a relatively smaller in the overall flying cost. Planes lifespans are generally in cycles of number of times they take off and land. The Dreamliner rated for 44000 cycles has a list price of $224.6 million, and hence the cost of plane per flight is barely over $5000 from New York to London, however, the fuel costs $15000. The most efficient speed range is 500 to 550 mph.

The airlines today are making concerted efforts on driving down the cost by focusing on the fuel efficient speed. Time is the enemy of privileged few but cost is the enemy of masses.

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