To know how fast a plane goes in the air we first have to understand which airplane we are talking about and what are the flight conditions.
In this post we will see how fast an airplane goes and learn how to distinguish airplanes according to their speed and according to the phase of flight, they are flying in.
I will not talk about Ground speed and Airspeed. There is a difference between these two and to give you more detailed indications on an airplane speed I would have to explain their difference.
This is not the purpose of this post. I just want to give you a quick indication on how fast airplanes fly and the various speeds according to the airplane you are looking at.
Let’s start from smaller single-engine airplanes and then we’ll see airliners.
So, let’s see how fast planes go.
How fast do passenger planes fly?
Let’s start from small single-engine airplanes, then we’ll see bigger passenger planes speeds at cruising altitudes, at take-off and landing.
A Cessna 172 has a cruising speed of about 120 knots, that’s around 140 mph. Not all single engines planes have the same speed. For example, a Piper Arrow flies around 140 knots, 20 knots more than the Cessna.
These speeds are not very high, but obviously, these airplanes are used by private pilots and not for commercial purposes.
Anyway, there are more powerful single-engine airplanes that can fly at higher speeds, like the Mooney, which flies at 170 knots.
Going on to slightly bigger planes, a twin-piston engine such as the Baron can fly at 180 knots. This aircraft was built initially with piston engines and in the history of the plane different variants were built, including a version with turbocharged engines and turboprop engines.
The Beechcraft King Air is a small Turboprop plane built in different variants according to the number of passengers it can hold. The smaller version for 6 passengers can fly at a cruising speed of 270 knots. The larger version for 8 passengers can fly at 310 knots.
How fast can an airliner fly?
Let’s start from small airline planes such as turboprops. The most used are the ATR 72-600 and the Q400 which have a cruise speed of around 280 knots.
Small airliners with jet engines fly much faster and much higher. A CRJ 200 can fly at 488 mph. All jet engines airplanes fly about the same speed. Some are faster because they are lighter or slimmer or simply have very powerful engines (such as private jet planes).
So basically all jet airliners fly around 488 knots at cruising altitude.
Speeds at Takeoff and Landing
How fast does an airplane go when landing depends on a number of factors (dimensions, weight, wind, altitude, etc.).
Small single-engine airplanes take off at around 60 knots and land approximately at the same speed.
These speeds change according to weight and weather conditions. It can also change according to the altitude the airport is. Higher altitude airports push piston engines to the limit and require more runway to reach takeoff speed as there is less oxygen in the air.
Turboprop engine airplanes can take off and land at higher speeds, but these too depend on the weight of the plane. A Beechcraft Baron takes off at 85 knots and lands at 100 knots.
A King air takes off at around 110 knots and lands almost at the same speed.
An ATR and Q400 takeoff and landing speed change according to the weight. Fully loaded with luggage, passengers and fuel will result in a higher airspeed at takeoff and landing compared to when they are empty or have smaller loads.
The same thing goes for any other jet engine. Takeoff speeds are determined by calculating a number of variables and are given to pilots by the FMC.
These speeds are just an indication to give you an idea of what pilots would read on their instruments at takeoff, landings and at cruise speed.
So, these are the speeds airplanes fly. If you have more questions about this topic, please leave a comment below.