This is because the plane's speed was due to the jet stream and not the plane's engines.
Despite most commercial flights being unable to reach such supersonic speeds, one Virgin Atlantic flight managed to actually surpass the speed of sound by traveling at a ground speed of 801 miles per hour on a flight from Los Angeles to London on Monday, according to The Washington Post.
The previous high-speed record for a Dreamliner was set by a Norwegian aircraft, which completed the journey from NY to London in just over five hours, hurtling along at 776mph, surfing high-altitude winds of 202mph, but those on the ground would have been oblivious. Planes use the jet stream as a tailwind when traveling west to east and try to avoid the air current when traveling in the opposite direction.
It is astonishing, considering the average cruising speed of a 787 Dreamliner is normally 567mph.
Monday's record was above the speed of sound- which is 767 mph- however, whether air travel breaks the sound barrier is dependent on its airspeed, not ground speed.
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If you are a frequent flier, maybe you already know that your plane ride can be sped up or slowed down because of the jet stream winds. BA Flight 112, a 777, hit 777mph, leaving NY for London.
According to The Washington Post, jet streams this strong usually only occur in winter because the temperature differences between the north and south are at their highest. "That flight set a record for the fastest subsonic transatlantic commercial airline flight-5 hours and 13 minutes, thanks to a 202 mph tailwind".
For the jet stream to get cranking this much, there must be a big storm brewing somewhere, right?
"A 100 mph increase in the jet stream above typical can add or remove about an hour from a five to six-hour flight", a FlightAware spokesperson told CBS. In the Northern Hemisphere, the jet stream flows generally from west to east.
Patrick Smith, pilot and author of Cockpit Confidential, agrees: "Flights over mountain ranges and through certain frontal boundaries will also get the cabin bells dinging, as will transiting a jet stream boundary".