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How Fast do Planes Fly

How Fast do Planes Fly: Commercial, Private & Military

Nicolle Harwood-Nash
10 minutes read
Last Updated: June 20, 2023

The speed of an aircraft is a crucial aspect that influences travel time, fuel efficiency, and overall flight performance. Understanding these speeds can provide a fascinating insight into the realm of aviation.

On average, commercial planes cruise at about 575-600 mph (925-965 km/h, 500 to 521 knots, 0.78 to 0.81 Mach). Private jets typically cruise at around 500-600 mph (805-965 km/h, 435 to 521 knots, 0.68 to 0.81 Mach). Military aircraft can exceed 1,500 mph (2,400 km/h, 1,297 knots, 2.08 Mach).

As your dependable platform for in-depth and reliable aviation-related information, in this article, we'll be looking into the fascinating world of aircraft speeds, focusing on three main types: commercial planes, private jets, and military aircraft.

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How Fast Does a Commercial Plane Go?

Commercial aeroplanes are the backbone of global air travel, flying millions of passengers and countless tons of cargo across the world every day. Coming in an array of shapes and sizes, these aircraft handle different journeys efficiently and safely. From nimble regional jets that connect smaller cities to colossal long-haul aircraft capable of non-stop intercontinental flights, each type showcases impressive feats of engineering.

Speed, in particular, is a vital aspect of an aircraft's performance. It influences not only the duration of the flight but also the plane's fuel efficiency and the passenger's comfort. To give you a clearer idea of these speeds, we've compiled a table below that outlines the average cruising speeds of ten popular commercial aeroplane models:

Model

mph

km/h

Knots

Mach

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

652

1,049

567

0.86

Boeing 747

580

933

504

0.76

Airbus A380

561

903

487

0.74

Boeing 777

562

905

488

0.74

Airbus A340

541

871

470

0.71

Boeing 767

529

851

460

0.69

Boeing 737

523

842

454

0.68

Airbus A320

515

828

448

0.67

Embraer E190

515

828

447

0.67

ATR 72

317

510

275

0.41

How Fast Does a Commercial Plane Go During Take-Off?

Take-off is the phase of flight where an aircraft goes from ground to air. It's a complex process, reliant not just on the aircraft's powerful engines but also on the aerodynamic properties of its wings. As the aircraft accelerates along the runway, air pressure builds underneath its wings, generating lift. Once this lift counteracts the weight of the aircraft, the plane takes to the air, embarking on its journey.

It's important to note that an aircraft's take-off speed is not a constant figure but can vary significantly depending on several factors. The weight of the aircraft, the length of the runway, the wind conditions, and the ambient temperature can all impact the speed required for a successful take-off. 

The speeds listed in the table below represent the average ranges of take-off speeds for various commercial aeroplanes:

Model

mph

km/h

Knots

Mach

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

160 - 185

257 - 298

139 - 161

0.21 - 0.24

Boeing 747

155 - 175

249 - 282

135 - 152

0.20 - 0.23

Airbus A380

155 - 165

249 - 266

135 - 143

0.20 - 0.22

Boeing 777

155 - 165

249 - 266

135 - 143

0.20 - 0.22

Airbus A340

155 - 165

249 - 266

135 - 143

0.20 - 0.22

Boeing 767

150 - 165

241 - 266

130 - 143

0.19 - 0.22

Boeing 737

150 - 155

241 - 249

130 - 135

0.19 - 0.20

Airbus A320

150 - 155

241 - 249

130 - 135

0.19 - 0.20

Embraer E190

140 - 150

225 - 241

122 - 130

0.18 - 0.19

ATR 72

105 - 120

169 - 193

91 - 104

0.14 - 0.16

How Fast Does a Private Jet Go?

Private jets are typically smaller aircraft primarily used for business or leisure travel, serving individuals or small groups who value speed, comfort, and flexibility. These planes often provide the luxury of direct flights to smaller airports, avoiding the crowded, hub-and-spoke systems of commercial airlines. Owned by corporations, affluent individuals, or chartered by those seeking quick and convenient travel, private jets offer an unrivalled level of service and efficiency.

While they may be smaller than commercial planes, private jets are often designed to cruise at high speeds, minimising the overall time spent in the air. This characteristic, coupled with their ability to provide a more seamless and luxurious travel experience, makes them highly desirable.

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The table below outlines the general cruising speeds of some popular private jet models:

Model

mph

km/h

Knots

Mach

Gulfstream G550

613

987

533

0.80

Cessna Citation X

604

972

525

0.79

Bombardier Global 7500

593

955

515

0.78

Gulfstream G650ER

594

956

516

0.78

Dassault Falcon 7X

559

900

486

0.73

Bombardier Challenger 350

528

849

459

0.69

Dassault Falcon 2000

528

849

459

0.69

Embraer Phenom 300

521

839

452

0.68

Hawker Beechcraft 800XP

515

828

448

0.67

Cessna Citation Latitude

513

826

446

0.67

How Fast Does a Private Jet Go During Take-Off?

Take-off for private jets, much like commercial aircraft, involves a complex interplay between the aircraft's engines and its wings. Private jet take-off speeds, like those of commercial planes, are influenced by a myriad of factors, including aircraft weight, the condition of the runway and the temperature. Given these variables, there isn't a one-size-fits-all figure for take-off speed. Instead, each flight's take-off speed is carefully calculated based on these factors to ensure a safe and efficient departure.

Below, we've compiled a table of general take-off speeds for the same private jet models discussed earlier:

Model

mph

km/h

Knots

Mach

Gulfstream G650ER

155

249

135

0.20

Gulfstream G550

150 

241

130

0.20

Bombardier Global 7500

130

209

113

0.17

Cessna Citation X

120 

193

104

0.16

Bombardier Challenger 350

115

185

100

0.15

Dassault Falcon 2000

110

177

96

0.15

Dassault Falcon 7X

105

169

91

0.14

Hawker Beechcraft 800XP

105

169

91

0.14

Cessna Citation Latitude

100

161

87

0.13

Embraer Phenom 300

98

158

85

0.13

How Fast Does a Military Plane Go?

Military aircraft are designed and used for an array of combat and non-combat roles that include, but are not limited to, air superiority, ground attack, surveillance, transport, training, and rescue. These versatile machines are engineered to extreme specifications to withstand rigorous operations and carry out their missions effectively.

Speed is a critical element in the design of many military aircraft, with many models having extremely fast maximum speeds compared to commercial aircraft and private jets. For fighters and interceptors, speed often translates to survivability and mission success. For cargo and transport aircraft, speed can mean the difference between a timely delivery of troops or supplies and a failed mission. 

Here's a table showcasing the average cruising speeds of some popular military aircraft:

Model

mph

km/h

Knots

Mach

Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor

1,220

1,963 (supercruise)

1,060

1.62

Dassault Rafale

746

1,200

648

0.99

Sukhoi Su-27/30

674

1,085

586

0.89

Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet

643

1,034

559

0.85

Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

640

1,030

556

0.85

Mikoyan MiG-29

640

1,030

556

0.85

Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit

628

1,010

546

0.83

Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon

600

965

521

0.79

McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle

570

917

496

0.75

Lockheed C-130 Hercules

336

540

292

0.44

How Fast Does a Military Plane Go During Take-Off?

As with other types of aircraft, take-off speeds for military planes are not constant. In addition to being affected by various external factors like wind and runway length, military planes may have unique performance characteristics and higher or lower take-off speeds, depending on their specific design and role.

While precise data for each aircraft's take-off speed is often classified, below is a table with estimated take-off speeds for the same military aircraft models mentioned earlier:

Model

mph

km/h

Knots

Mach

Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor

150

240

130

0.20

Sukhoi Su-27/30

150

240

130

0.20

Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet

150

240

130

0.20

Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

150

240

130

0.20

Mikoyan MiG-29

150

240

130

0.20

Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit

155

250

132

0.20

Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon

165

265

143

0.22

McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle

160

257

139

0.21

Dassault Rafale

138

222

120

0.18

Lockheed C-130 Hercules

125

201

109

0.16

How Fast Are Planes Going When They Land?

When planes land, they’re moving considerably slower than their cruising speed. This slower pace, called landing speed, varies based on factors such as the aircraft's weight and the weather conditions. Below, you can find an example of the average landing speed for each of the types of aircraft discussed in this article:

  • Boeing 737: the landing speed of this commercial aircraft is usually around 150 mph (241 km/h, 130 knots, 0.2 Mach).
  • Cessna Citation X: this private jet might approach a runway at approximately 110 mph (177 km/h, 96 knots, 0.15 Mach).
  • F-16 Falcon: this military aircraft generally lands at an average of 150 mph (241 km/h, 130 knots, 0.2 Mach).

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What Are the Factors That Influence a Plane’s Speed?

The speed of a plane is influenced by several factors, including its design, weight, engine power, and the weather conditions. The design and weight of the aircraft affect its ability to generate lift and maintain speed, while the engine power determines its thrust and acceleration capabilities. Pilots adjust the speed to ensure safety and compliance with regulations.

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How is an Airplane’s Speed Measured?

Aeroplane speed is measured in knots, miles per hour (mph), or kilometres per hour (km/h). Different speed measurements include groundspeed (relative to the surface), true airspeed (relative to the air mass), and indicated airspeed (read from the speedometer, adjusted for altitude and temperature). At higher altitudes, speed is often referenced in terms of Mach numbers, representing the ratio of the aircraft's speed to the speed of sound.

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What’s the Fastest Plane Ever?

The North American X-15 holds the title of the fastest manned aircraft. The X-15 achieved a top speed of approximately 4,520 mph (7,273 km/h, 3,938 knots, 5.84 Mach). This experimental aircraft was specifically designed to explore hypersonic flight and set multiple speed and altitude records during its operational period from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. The X-15's remarkable achievements in pushing the boundaries of aerospace technology make it an iconic symbol of high-speed flight.

FAQs

Below you can find answers to FAQs about an aircraft's speed:

How fast can a single-engine aeroplane go?

The speed of a single-engine aircraft can vary depending on the specific model, but it typically ranges from around 115 to 230 mph (185 to 370 km/h, 100 to 200 knots, 0.15 to 0.30 Mach).

How slow can a plane fly?

The minimum speed at which a plane can fly, known as the stall speed, depends on factors such as aircraft weight, configuration, and atmospheric conditions, but it generally falls between 46 to 81 mph (74 to 130 km/h, 40 to 70 knots, 0.06 to 0.11 Mach).

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Glenn Mootoo 11.06.2024

Very informative, would like to learn more about planes. It's a dream of mine to own an aircraft one day.

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