British Airways flight crosses Atlantic in less than 5 hours, setting record

/ CBS/AP

Storm Ciara batters U.K. and northern Europe

For the first time in years, a commercial passenger plane has flown across the Atlantic in less than five hours. A British Airways flight landed early Sunday morning at Heathrow Airport in London after leaving John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York just four hours and 56 minutes earlier.

That set a new speed record for subsonic – or slower than the speed of sound – commercial aircraft to fly between the two cities, according to Flightradar24, which tracks global flights.

Fastest across the Atlantic tonight from New York to London so far is #BA112 at 4hr56m. #VS4 in 4:57, and #VS46 in 4:59. https://t.co/gfYoHGV3Y6https://t.co/kMhjCqdEtt

If we're not mistaken, BA now retakes the fastest subsonic NY-London crossing from Norwegian. pic.twitter.com/Sr1GPeAjuh

— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) February 9, 2020

The previous record was held by a Norwegian Air flight, which flew between the two cities with a flight time of five hours and 13 minutes.

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The flight had been expected to take 102 minutes longer. The recent average flight time between New York and London is 6 hours and 13 minutes, according to Flightradar24.

CBS News meteorologist and climate specialist Jeff Berardelli reported that weather conditions made it likely that this could happen for "CBS This Morning" on Saturday. On Sunday, he tweeted "it was even more prophetic than I expected."

The wind and air currents were ideal for a fast flight, said Ian Petchenik, Flightradar24's director of communications. "In the winter, the jet stream dips down a bit," he said. "It's kind of in a perfect spot for flights across the North Atlantic to take advantage of it."

BBC News reports that the jet stream was accelerated by Storm Ciara, which battered the UK and northern Europe with hurricane-force winds and heavy rains Sunday,

British Airways Flight 112 just narrowly beat out a Virgin Atlantic flight, which arrived in London at around the same time but one minute slower.

British Airways confirmed the flight time for the Boeing 747 plane, saying the company prioritizes safety over speed.

The supersonic Concorde flights used to fly across the Atlantic in just over three hours, but stopped flying in 2003.

First published on February 10, 2020 / 7:34 AM

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