View Full Version : fastest subsonic transatlantic crossing?

Milo Minderbinder
13th Mar 2012, 00:49
Anyone know what the fastest subsonic crossing of the Atlantic is?

In the late 1980's I was on a BA 747 Boston > Heathrow which took off in the teeth of a gale and did a rollercoaster ride all the way. On landing the pilot announced we had completed the "second fastest subsonic Atlantic crossing".
The background was that the aircraft had arrived two hours late from Philadelphia. We boarded immediately but were then held for another two hours while the aircraft was deiced and the runway ploughed clear of snow (a massive storm was approaching)
We left nearly four hours late and arrived virtually on time after sitting in a 300+ mph jet stream all the way
So anyone know what would have beaten that? A VC-10?

13th Mar 2012, 01:52
The performance of the VC10 was such that it achieved the fastest crossing of the Atlantic - London to New York, by a jet airliner, a record still held in 2009 for a sub-sonic airliner although beaten by the supersonic Concorde.

Vickers (http://www.michaelprophet.com/News_articles/News_articles2010/VC10.html)

Lightning Mate
13th Mar 2012, 08:08
An ex-Lightning mate of mine transferred to the VC10 in 1973. He said that, if necessary (VIP trips) it would cruise at M0.94.

Not many jets of that era or this could achieve that.

His great comment was that he transferred from one fast jet to another.....

However, he also said that the fuel consumption of the Conways was horrendous.

Perhaps there are some ex-VC10 guys out there who can add more.

Dave Gittins
13th Mar 2012, 08:25
My recollection was that the Convair 990 Coronado was quicker than a 707 or a DC-8 .... is that a contender ?

Although Wikipedia cites the VC-10 but without referencing a particular flight, date, time or speed.

13th Mar 2012, 08:30
However, he also said that the fuel consumption of the Conways was horrendous.

An ex-Lightning pilot said that? Bl**dy cheek!

Lightning Mate
13th Mar 2012, 08:34
No comment Your Honour.

Milo Minderbinder
13th Mar 2012, 08:44
That statement about the VC10 is ambiguous anyway - it could be taken to refer to specifically London to New York, which is westbound. An eastbound flight should be quicker

13th Mar 2012, 10:27
A former crewmate of mine told a story about taking Margaret Thatcher in a VC10 to Washington to meet the US and French Presidents.

They were late leaving Heathrow due to road traffic and a man came to the front asking if it would be possible to arrive before the French Presidents aircraft.

The crossing was made at about M .91 and mission accomplished. (not much fuel remaining)

He also told me that there were significant position errors on the VC10 at high speed so that when indicating M .91 you were actually doing M .88.

13th Mar 2012, 10:57
Does the quickest subsonic refer to (sort of) still air conditions rather than surfing along a jetstream ? If the latter, may I forward a 5hr 15m MIA-CDG sector on a DC-10.


13th Mar 2012, 12:41
An ex-Lightning mate of mine transferred to the VC10 in 1973. He said that, if necessary (VIP trips) it would cruise at M0.94.

Not many jets of that era or this could achieve that.

The VC10 being one of them. M0.94 is, I'm sorry to say, WIWOL exaggeration (as in 'AI 23 picked up targets at over 10 miles')....

Cruising at an indicated M0.91 was outside the release to service limits, but very probably just about possible in a very highly polished VIP jet - fuel consumption would have been horrendous though. I've certainly cruised the Pond at M0.88 indicated, but the only time I took the RAF VC10 over M0.9 was during properly authorised post-maintenance air tests.

I suspect that the Convair 990 'Coronado' was quicker than the VC10, but probably didn't have the fuel to cruise at high IMN for very far.

13th Mar 2012, 12:55
Fastest subsonic currently has to be on Air Canada St Johns Newfoundland to Heathrow A319, which is 2,012 nm Great Circle, compared to the example Boston to Heathrow flight which is 2,837 nm. Boston to Shannon on Aer Lingus is 2,516 nm. In the days when Air Canada did Gander-Prestwick on a Tristar that was only 1,844 nm and probably was the minimum you could achieve, I believe they were often well under 4 hours. The timetable time in a 1962 timetable I have here for a DC8 on this route is 4 hours 5 minutes.

However the OP's example might have been a near-record for this particular combination of carrier and route. Or for the skipper's log book.

Regarding the Convair 990 Coronado it was never used on Transatlantic schedules.

Genghis the Engineer
13th Mar 2012, 12:57
I was on the fringe of a high altitude VC10 to Tornado AAR and airborne intercept trial in the mid 1990s.

My recollection is that the VC10 could out-turn, out climb, and out accelerate the untrustworthy tornadoesntgo.

Then the Tornado's radar fell over, and it got vectored onto its target using the VC10's weather radar!

Fun times.


14th Mar 2012, 14:48
Done Gander to Lyneham in 4hrs 50 mins in Albert....415kts g/s....

14th Mar 2012, 16:33
I suppose that beats the Tornado too?

14th Mar 2012, 19:09
Does anyone have info on the Buccaneer that did the first unrefuelled crossing in mid sixties think it was XN974 one of the early S2's.

15th Mar 2012, 12:33
A 1968 BOAC timetable (http://www.vc10.net/Data/1968_Super_page6.html) shows a Super VC10 trip from New York to London: departure 02:00 GMT, arrival 08:40 GMT. For the opposite direction the scheduled trip time is one hour longer.

In comparison a B707 (taken from a 1966 timetable (http://www.vc10.net/Data/1966_BOAC_page7.html)) is planned for a 9:00 departure from New York (EST, so this would be 14:00 GMT) and scheduled to arrive in London at 20:30 GMT, 10 minutes less than in the VC10 planning.

15th Mar 2012, 12:43
747-100 G-AWNL 5hr 29 mins JFK to LHR 6 Jun 1994. Thats the fastest I can see in my logbook! Sometime after that they stopped us arriving early at LHR due to shortage of parking slots!!:ok::ok::ok::ok::ok:

Lightning Mate
15th Mar 2012, 13:11
Owza fishin' ?

15th Mar 2012, 13:37
Brilliant!! Just joined a new syndicate so loads more fishing this year!!:ok:

15th Mar 2012, 15:03
All down to the jetstream being in the right place but I recall a Laker DC10-10 in the late '70's with an actual flying time Bangor to Gatwick at 4 hrs 25 min. The computer flight plan showed 4 hr 20 min....I recall querying it at the time and requested our supplier to resend it - still came back with the same answer! On another date a DC10-30 achieved LAX-LGW in approx 8 hrs 45 mins.

15th Mar 2012, 16:42
I think I might have missed something here?

Is this a DC10 only thread? Its not mentioned in the title!

When is the jetstream not involved when crossing the Atlantic? One way you try to avoid it and the other you try to use it!:ugh:

15th Mar 2012, 17:07
newt, its the first time the DC-10 has been mentioned that I can see!
Difficult to discuss the subject matter without mentioning the jetstream - it needs to be in exactly the right place to achieve such crossing times:)

15th Mar 2012, 17:20
newt's aircraft recce never was much good.....:p

16th Mar 2012, 20:57
How about EI-ALA Aer Lingus B720 delivery flt IDL (JFK) - SNN
17/18 Nov 1960 in 04.57

8th Jul 2013, 22:05
Old thread, but so am I!, - only just spotted it , here goes:-

Sept.6,1966 BOAC Super VC10 G-ASGH Dep. NYK 04:48 Arr.PWK 10:08 total time chock to chock 5:20, airborne 5:04 if we had been allowed a straight in to PWK, but there was other traffic ahead, would probably have beaten 5hrs.

8th Jul 2013, 22:32
Happened upon this thread - remembered my Dad coming home when I was a kid and announcing he had just got the transatlantic record. So I emailed him and got this reply:

"Found it! - New York to Prestwick 6 Sept. 1966 total time 5hrs.20mins, airborne time T/O to Landing 5hrs.04 mins, I was the First Officer but flew that sector, Neville Oakley the Captain, nice guy. We asked to come straight in to Prestwick but they refused due to other traffic in the area, we estimated we would have been just under 5hrs airborne. Oh well 5:04 wasn't bad. Yep we had huge tailwinds most of the way."

It could still be the current record flight - but who would know?

Anyway, there is a funny part to this - I have just realised that ROBof6PIN who did the 2004 post ... is my Dad. I did email him this page link, seems he didn't recognise it!

pax britanica
8th Jul 2013, 23:00
Lived n Bermuda in the 80s and some quick crossings from there . One does stick very much in my mind as around 5 hrs 10 mins Kindley Field to LHR. Cannot remember date but BA BDA Ops transfered to Gatwick in later 80s so probably around 85.
This was on a Tristar possibly a -500.

Of course as it was due to a very strong jet Stream the return a few days later was a very very long journey of about 9 hours 30 passing over Iceland -close to Southern tip of Greenland and then down Nova Scotia and onwards to BDA. A very graphic example of the impact the Jetstream can have

Barksdale Boy
9th Jul 2013, 03:48
Did Goose - Waddo in 4 hours 15 minutes in XM 602 on 21 Sep 69 and same route, same time and same airframe (always one of my favourites) on 15 Aug 72. ISTR that H...y N....n reckoned he'd done it in under 4 hours with the aid of a stiff jet stream..

9th Jul 2013, 10:01
Patton - better watch what you write then.......................

9th Jul 2013, 10:45
As the fastest subsonic crossings are dependent on a fluid jet stream, what have been the fastest recorded jet streams across the atlantic ? Anecdotally it would seem to be around the 300mph or kts level (not sure what it was).


9th Jul 2013, 11:30
Again an old thread but I have only just seen it. The flight refered to in post no. 8 may have been me driving. I did a pretty fast crossing with the late Baroness once to Andrews as she was late due traffic. If so this story is not quite correct as we had to stick to flt planned speed on the NATS. However as soon as we got over there I asked for .92 direct which was granted. A voice over the ether said 'geeze wa kinda aircraft does decibel nan two' My copilot as fast as anything replied, 'a very late VC10 old boy'.

Edit to say we made our doors time - as always :cool:

9th Jul 2013, 11:46
BOS - SNN 4hrs 29 mins. Jet stream peaked at 227kts of tailwind. Record for me anyway! ;)

9th Jul 2013, 20:40
New York to Prestwick in five hours and one minute, read the story 'The Atlantic Dash' on my site here: Testing and early days. (http://www.vc10.net/Memories/testing_earlydays.html#AtlanticDash)

And it was done by a VC10 of course... ;)