Before its retirement in 2003, the Concorde was the fastest passenger jet in history. Reaching speeds of over Mach 2 or 1,500mph, the Concorde was considered by many to be the ultimate in terms of fast travel across the Atlantic.
Today, there are no passenger jets that fly faster than Mach 1 or 700mph. However, even at those speeds, they can deliver passenger quickly from one destination to another. Here are the fastest passenger aircraft operating in the world.
1) Cessna Citation X
The Cessna Citation X is currently the fastest passenger plane in the world. Operating at maximum speeds of 700mph, the Citation X is a private business jet that can carry up to 7 passengers. Introduced after years of testing in 1996, the Citation X is a swept-wing aircraft powered by twin Rolls Royce engines and designed for maximum speed while providing comfort for its passengers. Legendary golfer Arnold Palmer purchased one of the first Citation X jets when it was released to the public.
2) Dassault Falcon 7X
Close behind the Cessna Citation X is the Dassault Falcon 7X which can reach speeds of 685mph in flight. This large cabin, long range business class jet was first presented at the famed Paris Air Show in 2005. Costing nearly $35 million, the Falcon X is the first fly-by-wire business jet to be commercially sold and carries 8 passengers. The Falcon X is one of only two business jets to use three jet engines and the central engine boasts the S-duct exhaust design.
3) Gulfstream G550
Reaching speeds of 675mph, the Gulfstream G550 is currently the third fastest passenger jet. Produced by General Dynamics, this 8 passenger business jet was introduced in 2003 and is a longer range version as compared to the G500 design. A long-range business class jet that can fly up to 6,750 miles, the sleek design and advanced electronics make this one of the most desired business class jets on the market today.
4) Gulfstream G500
Slightly slower than the Gulfstream G500 at 673mph, this version look almost identical in outward appearance to the G550, but is shorter ranged and does not have the Enhanced Vision System (EVS) aboard the plane as a standard feature. It can fly up to 5,800 miles and was designed to match the reliability of the G550, but at a lower price tag.
While business class jet aircraft occupy the top four spots of the fastest to carry passengers, large airlines use planes carrying hundreds of people around the world at speeds that are somewhat less than their business jet counterparts. What follows are the fastest commercial passenger jets used by the airlines today.
1) Boeing 747
Although this famous commercial jet was first flown in 1970, it still is the fastest large passenger jet in use today, flying at speeds at 575mph. The 747 is easily the most recognizable passenger jet on the list thanks to the famous double-deck configuration that elevates the cockpit of the aircraft. The 747 was also the first wide body airliner to be introduced to the general public. Still mostly used for overseas flights given its long range, the 747 is still being used today despite Boeing’s initial limited production of the aircraft in the early 1970s, believing that supersonic models would take its place.
2) Boeing 777
While designed for lower fuel consumption, the Boeing 777 is almost as fast as its earlier counterpart, the 747. This twin engine design was formally introduced in 1994 and is now a staple of international flights thanks to its long range. The straightforward design and high reliability of this aircraft are well known, suffering its first crash in July, 2013 at San Francisco Airport. Utilizing the fly-by-wire system which is now favored, the Boeing 777 is still highly popular and has set records for long distance flying between airports.
3) Airbus 340-600
One of the popular Airbus line, this plane reaches speeds just under the Boeing counterparts listed above, but in some ways not enough to really matter. The Airbus 340-600 is still widely in use today, although this particular line of aircraft recently stopped being manufactured. Like the 747 and 777, the Airbus 340 is designed for long range flight, carrying passengers to overseas destinations. The A340 is distinguished by its long nose and four large engines under the wings. It can fly nearly 8,000 nautical miles and is perhaps the most popular airliner outside of the Boeing series.
While these are the fastest airliners currently in use today, they are not nearly as fast as their counterparts from days gone by. In the 1960s there was a very strong belief by aircraft manufacturers that supersonic airliners would be ruling the skies by the mid-1970s given the passenger demand to arrive at destinations even more quickly. However, the oil crisis of the early 1970s changed those plans and most aircraft manufacturers abandoned their plans for supersonic jets.
Two exceptions were the Russian Tupolev Tu-144 and the famed French/British Concorde. While it was developed first, the Tupolev Tu-144 crashed at the 1973 Paris Air Show which delayed its entry into commercial use until two years after the Concorde went into service.
Tupolev Tu-144: First flying two months before the Concorde in 1969, the Tu-144 was delayed by a number of crashes and technical issues and did not fly commercially until 1977. However, after only 55 total flights, the Tu-144 was permanently grounded for use as an airliner. It served as a cargo plane until 1983 when it was permanently retired.
Concorde: First flying in 1969, the Concorde went into full service in 1976 and flew regular transatlantic flights from London and Paris to New York and Washington DC. Backed by both the British and French governments, the Concorde was extremely expensive to operate and only 20 were ever produced. The limited flights into the US helped restrict the further production of this plane.
Flying at greater than Mach 2, the Concorde was eventually done in by three factors. It’s first and only crash in 2000, the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 which impacted the airline industry and the refusal of Airbus, the new operator of the Concorde to maintain the aircraft led to its retirement in 2003.