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Author Topic: Question for aviation experts - Speed of sound / size of plane?  (Read 208 times)
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Roman
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« on: January 15, 2015, 02:59:27 PM »

Earlier this week it was reported that a British Airways Boeing 777 flying from NY to London reached near super sonic speed due to the jet stream. It pushed the plane to 1200 km/h (super sonic is 1224 km/h)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/11337617/Jet-stream-blasts-BA-plane-across-Atlantic-in-record-time.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-2903168/British-Airways-flight-hits-powerhouse-jet-stream-New-York-London-reaching-near-supersonic-speeds-745mph.html

Question- are planes of that size tested at those speeds? My lame brain tells me that the plane may not be designed as such.

Thoughts?
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Caine
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« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2015, 04:22:43 PM »

the 777 is subsonic flight only.  ground speed != air speed. 

This article has more details on that, but yea, the plane was not breaking the speed of sound.

http://www.askcaptainlim.com/flying-on-the-boeing-777-flying-91/1052-a-boeing-777-cant-fly-this-fast.html
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Isgrimnur
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« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2015, 04:29:57 PM »

Planes are stress tested well beyond the specs that are recommended or set as max operating specs.  Just look at the wing deflection test.

With a tail wind, the plane may be moving faster than the standard speed of sound, but the air that they're moving through, in a relative manner, is slower than the point at which a sonic boom shockwave will form.  You have the speed of sound that changes based on altitude and atmospheric pressure.  You also have measurements of indicated air speed versus true air speed.  

There's a reason that aerospace engineering is usually a masters-level program.
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Roman
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« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2015, 04:30:34 PM »

I understand that the plane was not travelling at the speed of sound. I am coming at it from the position of: they came pretty close - but even coming close did that pose any threat/risk to the fuselage? Is a plane with that type of aerodynamics meant to fly as fast OR faster as that?

edit - reply was posted at the same time as post above.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2015, 04:33:17 PM by Roman » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2015, 04:43:36 PM »

I knew it was only a matter of time before Grim chimed in with a more comprehensive answer
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Isgrimnur
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« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2015, 05:05:32 PM »

biggrin I was working on it as the first reply.  Then I got "Warning - a new reply has been added...", etc.  I had to go gather and review sources.
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« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2015, 05:19:09 PM »

I figured you would have had that answer down from memory already
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Isgrimnur
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« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2015, 05:35:59 PM »

I knew all the parts, but wanted to confirm and make sure I had it straight.  I still want to be an aerospace engineer when I grow up, but seeing as I'm 38, the time for that may have passed.  smile
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kronovan
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« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2015, 01:16:10 AM »

I've been a big aviation fan for some time and I've seen this discussion come up from time to time. I'm not going to go into much detail, since Isgrimnur stated it out so well. But in terms of speed, most jets don't have a problem being pushed along at high speed by a tailwind, but they do have a problem exceeding their tested speeds due to their own thrust - that's when a deadly thing called buffeting occurs.
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TheEgoWhip
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« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2015, 04:27:13 PM »

Quote from: Isgrimnur on January 15, 2015, 05:35:59 PM

I knew all the parts, but wanted to confirm and make sure I had it straight.  I still want to be an aerospace engineer when I grow up, but seeing as I'm 38, the time for that may have passed.  smile

I went back to school part time to attempt an engineering degree when I was 39. Almost 3 years in now and I am about 40% done.  Long haul still but definitely moving in the right direction. i have 20+ years until a traditional retirement, lots of time to take advantage of a new degree. It's not too late for you either.
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Isgrimnur
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« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2015, 03:39:41 AM »

Honestly, I can't afford to start over at entry level salary at this point, and I still need to learn Java for my current job.  I got a late start with my first big boy job in a real city at 31, and the debt load that came from eight years of not working with my degree will haunt me until I die under a mountain of debt.  smile
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