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Old 7th Jan 2004, 21:09   #1 (permalink)
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 1999
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Lightbulb Fastest airliner? (Except Concorde and TU-144)

So then people, what is the fastest ever commercial airliner (except for Concorde and the TU-144)?

My shortlist is:
Vickers (BAe) VC-10
Boeing 747
Convair 880/990

But it could be a different aircraft?

I am talking about maximum cruise speed in level flight, not in a dive (I know a test plane Douglas DC-8 went above mach one in a shallow dive but this does not count!).

Thanks for your help.
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Old 7th Jan 2004, 22:05   #2 (permalink)
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I remember a VC10 driver telling me a couple of years ago that the RAF has placarded them to cruise at .84 (to save airframe life I think), but they could go a bit faster.
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Old 7th Jan 2004, 22:10   #3 (permalink)
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The 727 was designed to cruise at Mach .92, but then the 70s gas crunch hit and everybody throttled them back. Nobody throttled them back up after the crunch was over (Should have been a hint to Boeing regarding the Sonic Loser.......people do not want to pay more money to save a little time). I have flight test video of the 727 at mach .97. Somebody around here posted a pic of their 747 at mach .91 and it was shaking pretty badly.
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Old 7th Jan 2004, 22:18   #4 (permalink)
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I reckon it's the VC10 ... M0.94
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Old 7th Jan 2004, 22:58   #5 (permalink)
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M.94 for the maximum high speed cruise (normally used)...hardly.

Friends at GF years ago mentioned it was never cruised above M.86.

The CV990 was normally cruised at M.88/90.
When fuel was cheaper, of course.

The VC10 and the CV990 disappeared from airline flying many years ago.
Yet the 'ole B707 still plugs along...at last count, 140 of 'em still flying, I believe.

At M.82.
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Old 8th Jan 2004, 01:15   #6 (permalink)
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Hmmm M0.82? I can nearly get that outta my Airbus 320! LOL. I remember being on the flight deck of a big fat Tristar cruising at 0.84 and I know the 747 is faster than the Tristar.

At the moment its looking like the Convair 880/990 is probably the winner!

Any advances?
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Old 8th Jan 2004, 02:43   #7 (permalink)
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How about Hawker Siddeley's DH/HS 121 Trident ?

heard it had a max cruise of M0.95.

Stand to be corrected as i am not too sure.
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Old 8th Jan 2004, 02:57   #8 (permalink)
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I think that various former soviet bloc aircraft, with dual military/civil heritage, used to clip along well above M0.9.
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Old 8th Jan 2004, 03:28   #9 (permalink)
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Trident 1 Original 'normal' CRZ speed M.88/385kts became
M.84/350kts as fuel prices increased.
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Old 8th Jan 2004, 04:16   #10 (permalink)
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I believe the TU-154 is only just subsonic....... When I get time to dig out some details I will do
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Old 8th Jan 2004, 08:12   #11 (permalink)
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The VC10 is cleared to M0.925 (and I have flown it at that) and would of course actually do more.

Normal MMo is M0.886 and normal cruise is M0.84.

I think that makes it still the fasest airliner in the business and for the benefit of 411A it is still in service - with the RAF.
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Old 8th Jan 2004, 10:42   #12 (permalink)
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Yes Moggie, will admit that that the VC10 is a fast aircraft...and indeed still in service with the RAF.
Having said this, the TriStar was designed to cruise at M.865, and indeed did so for a very long time at the ME airline that I used to work for...rushing to the cheap fuel (then 18 US cents/gallon, at that time).
Come to think of it, the TriStar is still used by a few pax aircarriers....something the VC10 can only dream about.

Having said this...the VC10, HS121 Trident (first autoland aircraft, least anyone forget), CV990...and the TriStar were designed when fuel prices were cheap(er)...and it was great to cruise faster.
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Old 8th Jan 2004, 11:12   #13 (permalink)
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The 747-400 at certain weight/alt combos will clip along at M.88 (I seem to remember that at FL310 - not very often, I believe it was at high FMC factor and into a v. strong Japanese jetstream).

The 777 will do .86 no probs, as will the L-1011 (let's not start the perennial "on-the-step" discussion).

Citation X....anybody?

I've flown the TU154, and can't believe that bucket of bolts would out-run an L-1011 at max TAS alt of about FL280, where CX used to cruise them.
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Old 8th Jan 2004, 11:14   #14 (permalink)
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The TU-154 is the master!

Role Medium range passenger aircraft
Status Produced until circa 1996, in wide spread service
First Flight October 3, 1968
First Service February 9, 1972 (Tu-154)
1984 (Tu-154M)

Engines 3 Kuznetsov NK-8 (Tu-154/A/B) or
3 Soloviev D-30KU (Tu-154M)

Length 47.9 m / 157ft 2in
Wingspan 37.5 m / 123ft 2in
Range 3'900 km / 2'400 mi (Tu-154M)
Cruising Speed 900 km/h / 560mph
Payload Capacity 156-180 passengers

Maximum Take-off Weight 98'000 kg (Tu-154/A/B) or
100'000 kg (Tu-154M)
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Old 8th Jan 2004, 12:04   #15 (permalink)
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Sorry a little long but probably worth to read !!!!
Summary from an article on A/C performance

Now that Concorde has been retired, what is the fastest passenger aircraft in current service?

In a previous question about the fastest commercial airliners, it was pointed out that the supersonic Tu-144 and Concorde were the two fastest passenger aircraft flown to date. Now that both of those planes have been removed from service, there is no obvious record holder for fastest plane in commercial service. All current passenger aircraft cruise between Mach 0.8 and 0.85 with a maximum speed typically between Mach 0.85 and Mach 0.9.
Nevertheless, I suspect that the current record holder, even if by the slimmest of margins, is probably the Boeing 747. We have previously discussed an aerodynamic principle called the area rule that describes how to minimize drag on an aircraft flying above Mach 0.8. In simple terms, the area rule states that the shape of the fuselage should be changed from the traditional tubular shape to more of an hourglass shape when the aircraft cruises in the vicinity of Mach 1. When both the fuselage and wing are added together, this layout creates a smooth distribution of the aircraft's cross-sectional area from the nose to the tail.

Effect of the area rule on overall vehicle shape
This smooth distribution of area minimizes the likelihood of forming shock waves over the surface of the vehicle, which minimizes drag. Now take a look at the layout of the 747 and note the large bulbous region located atop the fuselage forward of the wing. This bulge contains the cockpit and upper passenger deck.

Boeing 747
This distinctive "hump" has the effect of giving the 747 fuselage a shape closer to the hourglass contour described earlier. As a result, the 747 experiences lower drag than a comparable airliner that lacks the bulged fuselage. The aircraft can therefore travel slightly faster than its competitors for the same amount of fuel. If we compare the maximum speeds of airliners, we find that the 747 is quoted as being capable of Mach 0.885 whereas most other airliners can go no faster than Mach 0.87. While the advantage is a small one, it does appear to give the Boeing 747 the distinction of being the fastest commercial airliner in service today.

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Old 8th Jan 2004, 19:17   #16 (permalink)
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I flew for an airline that had been of the main operators of the CV990, altho' it had been retired about 8 yrs when I joined. I knew many who had flown it, and it was cruised at 0.92, with Mmo 0.96. Obviously, fuel cost tuppence h'apenny a barrel pre-1973!
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Old 8th Jan 2004, 20:03   #17 (permalink)
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DC-8. Record flight (dive) above Mach 1.

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Old 8th Jan 2004, 20:30   #18 (permalink)
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As per original design specs in good old mph terms:

Long Haul: CV 990 . High speed cruise worked out at 610 mph at 20,000ft , - Economical cruise 556 mph at 35,000 ft. (880 didnt have the streamlined wing fences and was about 10 mph slower).
ATC folk will well remember some of the sporty performances of the 990 around Europe when operating for Spantax

Short Haul: Trident 1 high speed cruise at 27,000 ft was 605 mph and economical 596 at 30,000. I seem to remember though BEA early on advertising it as a 610 mph aircraft, presumably rounded out upwards to the nearest 10mph.
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Old 8th Jan 2004, 20:41   #19 (permalink)
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I would say the Tu-154 is very fast. I had a ride from Tbilisi, Georgia to Istanbul and we were cruising at Mach.88 with no problems. It was moving.

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Old 8th Jan 2004, 22:05   #20 (permalink)
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I don't care what altitude your at a 727 will outrun the 747 series.

The original test pilots felt the 727 would pass mach 1 in level flight if they had been cleared to do so. How long the wings would have stayed on, who knows.
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