Swiss plane taking off

Under certain conditions, planes have speed limits.

  1. All aircraft must remain under 250 knots (288 miles per hour) while below 10,000 feet.
  2. At or above 2,500 feet, the conditions change a little. If you are at or above 2,500 feet and within four nautical miles of an airport with Class C or D planes, you cannot fly more than 200 knots (230 miles per hour).
  3. If the aircraft’s minimum speed is greater than 200 or 250 knots, the aircraft can run at that minimum speed without penalty.
  4. Noone can fly a plane over a Class B airport or fly in a VFR corridor in Class B airspace at a speed of 200 knots (230 miles per hour) or more. A VFR corridor is an area where planes can fly without communication with air traffic control.
  5. When commercial planes taxi between gates and runways, they must be at a max speed of 20 knots (23 miles per hour) and 10 to 15 miles per hour on turns.

Above 10,000 feet, there are no speed limits or regulations. Most commercial planes fly at a cruising altitude of about 35,000 feet, so they are not subject to a speed limit. However, they cannot simply go as fast as they want. Pilots must abide by the maximum safe speed outlined by the aircraft manufacturer.

Further, to remain fuel efficient, planes should ideally stay at their cruising speed. Cruising speed is approximately 500 to 550 miles per hour for most commercial aircraft. Jets tend to be faster and can have cruising speeds up to about 650 miles per hour.

On today’s aircraft, some pilots follow a cost index which tells them how fast to go to maintain maximum fuel-efficiency. Staying fuel-efficient is better for the environment and it allows airlines to charge their passengers reasonable fares, among other benefits. Learn more here.

Do private jets have speed limits?

Jet plane - Do planes have speed limits?

Above 10,000 feet, private jets don’t have any speed limit. Below 10,000 feet, all aircraft, including jets, must stay below 250 knots or 288 miles per hour.

The main benefit of private jets is that you can get to your destination faster than flying commercial. Private jets’ cruising speed is around 600 to 650 miles per hour, 50 to 100 miles faster than commercial aircraft.

Looking out a plane window on a runway

Do helicopters have speed limits?

Helicopter

The vast majority of helicopters can achieve a maximum speed of about 250 miles per hour due to their design and the behavior of propellers. There are only two helicopters that have achieved higher speeds, the Sikorsky X2 and Eurocopter X3. These planes flew at 299 miles per hour and 293 miles per hour respectively.

Explaining helicopter speed limits gets a little complicated, but check out the video below if you’d like to learn more. Then keep reading for a quick explanation of why helicopters can’t eclipse the 300 mph mark.

Let’s walk through how a plane moves, step by step.

For a plane to rise, its lift must be greater than the weight of the helicopter.

Once it reaches cruising altitude, it can hover when lift equals the weight of the helicopter.

Then the next step for the helicopter is to go forward, which requires some amount of forward thrust.

To do this, the rotor disc must be angled forward or downward. Then some of that lift will be translated to thrust and the plane will move forward.

The rotor disc is a combination of a plane’s blades and parts that help it to move forward. Some planes have two rotors, and some have a tail rotor as well.

But, looking at a plane’s blades from above, there is a problem. Let’s say the blades are moving counterclockwise. This means that the top half of the blades are moving in the direction of travel, while the bottom half are moving away from the direction of travel.

But blades generate lift based on how fast they rotate through the air. Now you might see the problem.

The area of the blades that is moving with the direction of travel will generate more lift, while the area that is moving away, or “retreating,” wants to hold the plane back. It’s not generating as much lift.

This phenomenon is called “retreating blade stall.” The retreating blade moves slower and therefore generates less lift than the forward blade. The steeper the angle of the plane (known as the angle of attack), the more lift the forward blade will generate, and the less lift the retreating blade will generate. This limits the maximum speed a helicopter can go.

Helicopters can help compensate for retreating blade stall thanks to the rotor, which allows them to increase their angle of attack as the blade rotates. 

So, as the helicopter increases its speed, the forward blade lowers its angle of attack and the retreating blade increases the angle of attack. This helps balance out the amount of lift that the blades generate, allowing the helicopter to go faster.

However, the angle of attack can only be increased for so long. Eventually, it reaches a point where flow separation occurs. At this point, the helicopter produces less lift. So, it no longer can increase its speed.

To eliminate this problem entirely, planes can have two blades, one that provides lift in one direction, and one that provides lift in the opposite direction. The next limit or barrier for planes is the speed of sound, but we’ll get to that in another article.

Hopefully this quick explanation helped you understand how helicopter speed limits work. If you would like a little more information, check out the above video.

What are the fastest helicopters?

  1. Eurocopter X3 – 293 MPH (2013)
  2. Sikorsky X2 – 288 MPH (2010)
  3. Westland Lynx – 249 MPH (1986)

The Westland Lynx was truly ahead of its time, as its speed record would take over 30 years to break. Eventually two military helicopters in the early 2000s, the Eurocopter X3 and Sikorsky X2, broke the Lynx’s record.

What is the slowest speed a plane can fly?

Planes must move at a speed where enough air passes over the wings to generate lift. To stay in the air, commercial planes need to fly at between 150 and 180 miles per hour.  This speed is called stall speed.

Technically, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (VTOL), such as helicopters, can fly at 0 miles per hour. This is called hovering.

Planes lined up on a runway

Can airplanes get speeding tickets?

Strictly speaking, no. There are not “tickets” for flying like you might get when you drive your car too fast or get in a wreck.

Pilots can receive violations for breaking federal aviation regulations (FARs).  For example, all aircraft must remain under 250 knots under 10,000 feet. Also, pilots can get a violation if they exceed the maximum safe speed according to the plane’s manufacturer.

In addition, pilots could get in trouble if they disobey air traffic control. But this isn’t black and white. They are allowed to throw some regulations out the window and fly faster than normal in the event of an emergency.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the airplane speed limit above 10,000 feet?

The airplane speed limit above 10,000 feet is 250 knots, or 288 miles per hour. All planes must abide by this regulation.

What is the speed limit in Class C and D airspace?

The speed limit in class C and D airspace is 200 knots (230 miles per hour) if:

  • You are within four nautical miles of a class C or D airport
  • You are 2,500 feet above ground or less

What is the max speed in Class B airspace?

The max speed for class B airspace is 200 knots (230 miles per hour) if:

  • You are within four nautical miles of a class B airport
  • You are 2,500 feet above ground or less

What is the airplane speed in km/h in india?

An airplane in India flies at about the same speed as any airplane: between 500 and 550 miles per hour. Some jets can fly up to 650 miles per hour at cruising altitude.

What is the fastest airplane speed in km/h?

The fastest airplane speed is 2193.2 miles per hour, or Mach 3. This was achieved by the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. The Lockheed SR-71 was a military aircraft designed for reconnaissance missions. It first flew in 1964 and was retired by the United States Air Force in 1998.

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