A Turkish Airlines flight journeying from Panama City to Istanbul, Turkey, took the brazen step of flying an additional 800 miles outside its usual flightpath, but passengers onboard might have otherwise been oblivious.
The re-route was a huge divergence from its usual trajectory across the Atlantic and through the Mediterranean, but thanks to excess windspeed harnessed by the jet stream, Flight 800 touched down on Turkish soil on time and unscathed.
Wired first noticed the Airbus A330’s arch-shaped journey on the website Flight Radar. On a mock-up rendering of the flight, the plane traverses the U.S. eastern seaboard before skirting the Arctic Circle’s edge and descending into Greek and eventually Turkish airspace.
From the ‘? Jet Stream Weeeee!’ files: yesterday’s TK800 took a northerly route back to Istanbul from Panama City.
The shortest route, which the flight usually follows, is the red dashed line. pic.twitter.com/X3CLLYMSWM
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) October 22, 2018
In the strange world of commercial airline economics, flying an extra 800 miles can be good business, provided there is enough wind. Airlines make good use of the Jet Stream, a current of air that flows east to west and can help ferry a plane at higher speeds without burning excess fuel. Earlier this year, 787s flying from London to New York made the trip at the dizzying clip of only a few hours, with one jet breaking 800 mph. In other words, plying more air doesn’t always equal more time, especially with a ferocious gale at your back.
Flight 800 is no different. Per Wired’s report, the plane surpassed its usual groundspeed of 540 mph upon hitting a ferocious current over the Labrador Sea, allowing it to notch a peak burst of 700 mph. The tailwind carried the plane through Greenland and Scandinavian airspace, allowing the airbus to reach the tarmac just 11 minutes behind schedule, despite the meandering route.
Or put in similarly mind-blowing terms: The airbus logged 7,553 miles in the same amount of time it usually takes to traverse 6,739, at virtually no cost to passengers or the airline. Talk about nature being on your side.
Originally posted on Popular Mechanics