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Technology

Pat and Stu explain why jetliners haven't gotten any faster over the last 50 years

(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

The technology of aviation has been improving steadily since jet aircraft became the norm in commercial air travel just over a half-century ago, yet for some reason commercial aircraft don't fly any faster than they did in the 1960s. Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere investigated this phenomenon Wednesday afternoon on "Pat & Stu," and they discovered that the turbine engines that power commercial airliners operate most efficiently when flying between 400 and 620 mph — speeds that were already being achieved in the '60s.

To fly much faster than that without wasting inordinate amounts of fuel, civilian planes would need to adopt the expensive turbojet engines featured in military aircraft, which can exceed 1,500 mph.

A well-known example of this technology was the Concorde supersonic passenger jet, which could travel at more than twice the speed of sound but used 2.5 times more fuel per mile as the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner while only transporting around a third as many passengers. Despite being able to fly from New York to London in under three hours, the inefficient Concorde was decommissioned in 2003.

To see more from Pat & Stu, visit their channel on TheBlaze and listen live to “Pat & Stu” with Pat Gray, Stu Burguiere and Jeffy Fisher weekdays 5–7 p.m. ET, only on TheBlaze Radio Network.

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