The cruise speed of an aircraft is the average jet speed attained once the aircraft is no longer climbing en route to its destination. On average, an aircraft typically flies at 85 percent of its top speed when it reaches its cruise speed. This is the speed at which the most fuel consumption occurs. Imagine setting the cruise control on your car once you reach a desired highway speed. The cruise speed of an aircraft is very similar.
Reaching Peak Performance
Commercial and passenger aircraft are designed for peak performance at their cruise speed. However, there are some factors that can affect the performance desired while maintaining average jet speed. Some of these factors include:
- Payload (the weight of passengers, crew and cargo)
- Center of gravity
Cruise Speed of Common Aircraft
On average, the typical cruising speed of a large commercial aircraft, like a Boeing 747, is somewhere between 475 and 500 knots (roughly 575 mph).
In comparison, a Cessna Citation X, boasts a cruising speed of 604 mph. This typically private jet is the undisputed king of speed. Because of it’s ability to fly so quickly, it can make the flight from New York to Los Angeles in less than four hours.