Fastest passenger flight that travels 2x the speed of sound

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concorde fastest passenger flight

Concorde was considered the fastest passenger flight in the world. And the shocking part is, that it still holds the record. Yes, you heard it right there is no such flight as of now to beat the speed of Concorde. Isn’t that interesting? So let’s dive into the history and learn more about Concorde.

What is Concorde? Does Concorde even mean anything?

Concorde was the supersonic passenger jet, jointly developed and operated by British Airways and Air France between the years 1976 to 2003.

The word ‘Concord’ means harmony between two parties. Since this was the combined project of two neighbouring countries. We could guess why they choose to name this as ‘Concorde’.

What made the Concorde so special?

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Concorde was a supersonic plane that could fly as high as to a point from where you can see the earth’s curvature. And upto a high speed of 2 Mach which is approx. 2450.09 kph. Which is twice the speed of sound.

The flight had classic routes from London Airport (LHR) – John F Kennedy Airport (JFK) and Paris (Charles De Gaulle) – John F Kennedy Airport (JFK). And guess what? Its average flight time to its destination was only 3 – 3.5 hours. That’s insane.

Even in today’s time, the average duration of flight from London and Paris to New York is 8 hours.

According to the British Airways website, In November 1986, British Concorde flew around the world, covering the circumference of the Earth in just 29 hours and 59 minutes covering 28,238 miles.

Concorde had its tag line to describe its ability ‘Arrive before you leave’.

The End of Concorde

The last flight that Concorde took was on 26th November 2003. Which is almost 19 years as of now. And across its service, it represented the heights of luxury travel. But there were several factors and incidents that led to the end of the Concorde era.

Here are the list of factor and reasons that forced the companies to withdraw the service.

Air France 4590 crash

On July 25, 2000, After departing from the Paris – Charles De Gaulle airport for New York, flight 4590 met an accident during take-off. 113 people died including all the 100 passengers, 9 crew members and 4 people on the ground.

The reason for the accident was found to be the problem with tires which led to the punctured tires. This was the only fatal accident that ever happened with Concorde.

Before this incident, Concorde was arguably the safest operational passenger airline in the world with 0 deaths.

After this incident, Concorde was grounded for more than a year with no service, no revenue and a lot of safety modifications.

9/11 Attack

The Concorde was already on the ground and getting hit by the revenue loss, and another tragic incident took place at the world trade centre in New York. Commonly known as the 9/11 attack.

The Incident shook the entire global aviation industry and declined its revenue to a huge extent.

Environmental & Noise Concerns

Since Concorde was a supersonic plane which flies at a much higher level than a normal passenger plane. Thus scientists were concerned that the exhaust from Concorde could be much more damaging to the ozone layer.

Then there were several moments against the sonic boom (High sound while departing and arriving) that came out of Concorde which led to several bans in the USA from time to time.

Profitability Challenges

Each Concorde ticket would cost more than $13.5k as per today’s price. Which would eventually look like the airline was a lot more profitable. And Honestly, it was profitable as well. But still, the actual picture was not so clear.

In order to operate and maintain Concorde, it required extremely qualified crew members and engineers which comes with a high premium.

Secondly, In order to serve the passengers better as they would expect for an expensive cost, both the airways British and France had to position a spare Concorde in New York JFK Airport. Just In case the coming Concorde had any problems so the spare Concorde can be used. Which was also a waste of resources. As there were already very few Concorde flights in service.

Concorde used the most powerful pure jet engine flying commercially. Thus it is also bound to burn more fuels while travelling. It is suggested that just to reach its runway it used 2 tons of fuel, which would be the consumption of an hour’s journey in today’s aircraft. Thus any huge price fluctuation in fuel rate had an adverse effect on the revenue of Concorde.

Maintenance and upgrading of Concorde were very expensive as most of its system was analogue based while the new upcoming system had shifted towards digital.

All the above reasons were already pushing challenges for Concorde then came the shift of passengers towards cheaper tickets and flights. Which eventually declined the demand for Concorde.

The ticket cost of Concorde could not be brought down as there were only 100 passengers seated on the flight which could not be extended. After understanding the narrowing scope of the Concorde’s future. Finally, BA and AF decided to close the service on 10th April 2003.

Overture Jet: New Concorde may arrive in a few years

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The US plane manufacturer Boom Sonic have plans to launch its Overture Jet which would travel at twice the speed of today’s fastest commercial flight. Still, it is very difficult to say whether it will match the Concorde’s capabilities.

The Company is planning to begin product by 2024 and the first overture aircraft is expected to arrive by 2025. But the first passenger experience is only expected by 2029 which is approx. 7 years.


The Concorde was an amazing plane that could fly faster than the speed of sound. It was a true marvel of engineering and it’s sad that it is no longer in service. However, its legacy lives on and it remains an important part of aviation history.

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