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Why are airplanes slower than they used to be? - Alex Gendler

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  • 1,407 Questions Answered
  • TEDEd Animation

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In 1996, a British Airways plane flew from New York to London in a record-breaking two hours and fifty-three minutes. Today, however, passengers flying the same route can expect to spend no less than six hours in the air — twice as long. So why, in a world where everything seems to be getting faster, have commercial flights lagged behind? Alex Gendler details the problems facing supersonic flight.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Alex Gendler
  • Director Michael Kalopaidis, Alexia Roider
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Storyboard Artist Jeanne Bornet
  • Animator Maria Savva
  • Art Director Jeanne Bornet
  • Sound Designer Andreas Trachonitis
  • Producer Zedem Media, Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Fact-Checker Eden Girma
  • See more
Additional Resources for you to Explore
For a deeper explanation of the physics and aerodynamics involved, see this post, or this interview with an aeronautics professor. Follow the history of the Concorde and its record-setting flight, or learn about the Soviet-made Tupolev Tu-144, the only other supersonic civilian airliner to date. Or explore new technologies striving for quieter and more energy-efficient supersonic flights.

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Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Alex Gendler
  • Director Michael Kalopaidis, Alexia Roider
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Storyboard Artist Jeanne Bornet
  • Animator Maria Savva
  • Art Director Jeanne Bornet
  • Sound Designer Andreas Trachonitis
  • Producer Zedem Media, Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Fact-Checker Eden Girma
  • See more

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