Why Does It Still Take 5 Hours To Fly Cross-Country?

by Adam

On Wednesday, May 11, Future Tense, a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University brought together industry experts, leaders, and innovators to weigh in on the future of flight at an event in DC and to answer the question – “Why Does It Still Take 5 Hours to Fly Cross-Country?”

We like to talk about the dizzying rate of technological change these days, but when it comes to intercity travel, we’re stuck back in 1959, when the 707 made its inaugural trans-continental flight. Why is that? And are we now on the eve of startling innovations in flying, or will it still take five hours to fly across the country in 2059?

Full video of the event below and check out the Future Tense website here for many great articles and a listing of upcoming events.

Also, see a few joint plane/train historic timetables here.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Coast to Coast

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Vicente June 6, 2016 - 2:02 pm

“No bucks, no Buck Rogers.”

Stealth plane, to drop million-dollar laser-guide munitions on an adobe hut? No problem. We spare no expense, when it comes to finding ways to kill each other.

Captain Obvious June 6, 2016 - 2:05 pm

Physics and cost.

rick b June 6, 2016 - 3:33 pm

Really? They need industry experts to figure out why?

There’s no way a sonic boom will be tolerated by communities in the flight path of supersonic airplanes, so until some physics breakthrough eliminates that, we’re stuck with 5 hours.

They should instead tackle airport efficiency.

DavidB June 6, 2016 - 3:34 pm

Even when Concorde was flying, it was not permitted to break the sound barrier over the mainland US (or other countries) due to the sonic boom it created and would drag across land. For a while Braniff flew it between IAD and DFW, but the Mach meter never moved beyond 0.9. (A relatively inexpensive way to sample the airplane. Fare was the normal F and it was a dinner flight. Even got a commemorative certificate. Fortunately, was able to indulge in the full Concorde experience before it came to an end.)l As noted above, it’s physics as much as it’s money. Hard to see a way to eliminate the sonic boom, even with stealth designs.

Kathryn Creedy June 7, 2016 - 10:46 am

What are you talking about flying x country in 5 hours? I haven’t had that experience in years. Usually takes a lot longer. Figure a day to get to each coast what with hub/spoke. Also figure in slow downs to save fuel, padded schedules to make you think you’ve arrived on time. Put together it means flying transcon in five hours usually doesn’t happen.

steve June 7, 2016 - 8:40 pm

Umm, I made lax-jfk under 4 hrs one time with direct vectors and monster tailwinds. Fact.


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